Russia and Iran signed an agreement to broaden military cooperation on Tuesday in Tehran. The agreement included provisions to expand counterterrorism operations, exchange training practices and expand naval cooperation, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Associated Press reported.
Part of the agreement was aimed at countering U.S. policy, according to Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan. U.S. and Russian relations are at their lowest in decades since the escalation of a fierce war in Ukraine between the pro-European government and pro-Russian separatists. The U.S. and its NATO allies have accused Russia of directly interfering militarily against its neighbor.
“Iran and Russia are able to confront the expansionist intervention and greed of the United States through cooperation, synergy and activating strategic potential capacities," Dehghan said, according to the AP. "As two neighbors, Iran and Russia have common viewpoints toward political, regional and global issues.”
Russia and Iran both have “a need to cooperate in the struggle against the interference of foreign forces in the region,” continued Dehghan.
Russia and Iran could work together on humanitarian missions to clear minefields as well, which the former requested be part of the agreement, according to Bernama news agency. They will also settle a contract signed in 2007 that would see Russia deliver Iran a number of S-300 missile defense systems, which Russia canceled after protests from the West. Russia said the sale would have violated United Nations sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Neither party gave details as to how the dispute would be resolved.
Iran is locked in the middle of talks with the U.S., China, Russia, France, the U.K. and Germany to end sanctions over the country’s nuclear program. Citing little progress, the parties took a recess until early February this week. Diplomats involved gave themselves until the end of June to come up with a deal.
Russia, meanwhile, pulled out of a highly successful nuclear cooperation venture with the United States in December. The two countries had cooperated since the fall of the Soviet Union to dismantle and dispose of the former bloc’s nuclear materials per the Cooperation Threat Reduction agreement.
The U.S. had financed the bulk of the operations and trained Russian specialists on practices, but Russia decided in December it was prepared to take on the work itself. Some experts worried the expensive operations could be neglected as the Russian economy falters, leaving enough unprotected materials to create dozens, if not hundreds, of dirty bombs.