The New York Times reported last night that President Obama recently wrote Russian President Dimitri Medvedev asking for help combating Iran's nuclear ambitions, in return for an end to U.S. plans for a Missile Defense Shield in Central Europe. The United States has signed exclusive agreements with the governments of Czech Republic and Poland to place an anti nuclear missile radar in Czech Republic and 10 nuclear interceptor missiles in Poland. Russia has strongly opposed the plan and has repeatedly pleaded with the United States to stop the project. Over 2/3rds of Czech citizens still remain opposed to the radar installation.
Since 2007, Russia has engaged Tehran and even offered multi-million dollar foreign aid projects to help Iran obtain nuclear power. Iran maintains that they only seek a peaceful nuclear program for generating civilian power. However, since 2003, the American government has taken a hard line against Iran, accusing the country of being a "state sponsor of terror". Many experts believe officials in the U.S. worry about strong Iranian influence in the region for decades to come following two disastrous wars in bordering countries, Iraq and Afghanistan.
It remains unclear whether President Obama's specific-vague proposal will gain any traction. Defense Secretary Robert Gates who has pushed for Missile Defense almost obsessively to the point of recklessness, has also suggested a joint Russian-American radar operation in the Czech Republic. However, withstanding the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and an occupation which continued until 1990, Czechs vehemently oppose Russian troops in their country.
President Medvedev responded today by issuing a statement commenting that Russia will help fight the terror threat from Iran, but cautioned that "there are no concrete iniciatives" yet offered in reducing the supposed Iranian threat. Medvedev noted that the secret form of the bargain-ultimatum is "not productive".
Iran and the United States have had strangled relations since the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran by assassinating President Mossadeq and installing the Shah as military dictator in 1953. There has been no formal diplomatic ties between the two nations since the 444 U.S. embassy hostage seige in Tehran in 1979.