Just yesterday, CNBC reported that the revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic “appears closer than ever.” Since the Iranian negotiators have refused to meet directly with their American counterparts, Russia—one of seven parties to the deal—has played a key role as an intermediary. Emanuele Ottolenghi details the close economic, diplomatic, and military relations between Moscow and Tehran, which have been evident since at least 2012, and have only been growing stronger. In fact, the two countries’ presidents met in person twice this year. Ottolenghi writes:
The problem for the Biden administration is that, for more than eighteen months now, it has expressed unwavering faith in the power of multilateral diplomacy, which includes the Russians, to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The White House is negotiating with Russia and Iran as if there were no war in Ukraine; no Russian criminal negligence regarding nuclear safety in Ukraine’s occupied areas; no Russian nuclear saber-rattling against the West; and no ongoing, documented violations by Iran [of the 2015 deal]—to say nothing of a Kremlin with zero credibility in upholding any agreement it signs. Yet when it comes to questions of nuclear war or peace, Putin is suddenly a trustworthy partner.
Washington needs to confront the deepening relationship between two paranoid dictatorships for what it is: an emerging coalition of totalitarian rogue states, backed by China, which is hellbent on reshaping the world and overturning the Western democratic rules-based order. This order, imperfect though it is, promotes human rights, democracy, free trade, open societies, and good governance. It rejects the use of force for conquest, and believes in the power of diplomacy, goodwill, and good faith cooperation between nations. This is the order that Iran and Russia, whether or not the White House considers them good-faith diplomatic partners, wish to subvert.
As far as strategic convergence goes, look no further than the respective Russian and Iranian echo chambers and the content of their disinformation ops, which are so aligned that their stated policies toward the United States have become virtually indistinguishable.