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Washington may seek to revise some basic provisions of the Iranian nuclear deal, even though it is unlikely to reject the agreement altogether, Kommersant writes on Friday quoting experts interviewed by it. Tehran earlier confirmed its willingness not to violate the agreement by complying with the IAEA’s demands to get rid of its excess heavy water. This looks like a move by Donald Trump to fulfill campaign promises made during the presidential race to scrap the deal with Tehran, which, in his view, contains serious unilateral concessions to Iran.
Experts interviewed by the paper agree that, even though the US administration has no intention of abandoning the nuclear deal with Iran altogether, even attempts to revise it may lead to a new crisis fraught with unpredictable consequences. "Although Donald Trump has described the Comprehensive Plan of Action as the worst deal in history and vowed to rip it up, its denunciation is unlikely to become a priority for him. Rather, we should expect attempts to bargain for more favorable conditions from Tehran," Andrei Baklitsky, Director of the PIR Center’s Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation Program, elaborated.
According to Maxim Suchkov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council, one of the effects of the attempts to revise the agreement could be changes in Iran’s internal political climate, which would can weaken reformers led by President Rouhani and strengthen the conservatives’ positions. "Discussions in the Islamic Republic both before the signing of the agreements and after that show that there are influential forces in that country interested in abandoning the agreement," he explained.
"If the policy of normalizing Iran’s relations with the US and the West fails, the world may face a new round in the Iranian nuclear crisis," he said.
The campaign platform of former French Prime Minister and The Republicans frontrunner in the presidential race, Francois Fillon, is considered the most consistent, well-conceived and suitable for tackling the country’s economic and social issues, French experts interviewed by Izvestia said. As for Russia, Fillon favors rapprochement and cooperation saying that anti-Russian sanctions yielded no results in foreign policy and turned Europe against itself.
Member of The Republicans party, Thierry Mariani, told the paper it is difficult to find the best candidate for the French presidency and, at the same time, Francois Fillon is the worst rival for Marine Le Pen. "Francois Fillon’s program is the most suitable for our country and is aimed at ensuring all necessary conditions for France’s further development," Mariani said. "As for Russia, he spoke out in favor of cooperation with it from the very start of the presidential race, and in June he was one of the first to back a resolution on lifting anti-Russian sanctions that I submitted to the National Assembly." According to the politician, Marine Le Pen’s chances to win the presidential election would be higher, if she clashed with Nicolas Sarkozy or Alain Juppe rather than Francois Fillon.
Despite the fact that Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon have dissenting opinions on a number of economic, political and social issues, their stances on Russia coincide. Both The Republicans and members of France’s National Front believe it is necessary to restore not only bilateral relations with Moscow but also Russia-EU relations. Moreover, both political parties call restrictive measures against Russia absurd.
"We want to balance US influence in Europe and are committed to closer cooperation with Russia. We do not support Eastern Europe’s stance on Russia and have said on numerous occasions that all sanctions should have long been lifted," Vice President of France’s National Front, Bruno Gollnisch, told Izvestia.
The resolution on suspending talks with Turkey on EU membership passed by the European Parliament on Thursday was, first and foremost, an emotional move, which is unlikely to draw Moscow and Ankara closer, said experts interviewed by Vedomosti.
The European parliament endorsed a resolution on suspending talks on Turkey’s EU membership on Thursday because of the actions by the Ukrainian authorities. European politicians earlier voiced serious concern over human rights violations and the possible restoration of capital punishment in Turkey.
According to Sergey Fyodorov, a research associate at the Institute for European Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, "the European Parliament has a decorative function" and for the most part "has no real influence on European policies." "Both Turkey and the EU are just trying to gloss over a bad game with a good face amid talks that have been going on for several decades without any results."
One should not have any illusions regarding closer ties between Russia and Turkey given this backdrop, says Alexei Malashenko, Chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Religion, Society and Security Program. "(President) Erdogan’s statements on joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) … are propaganda for foreign audiences only. Erdogan wants to show Europeans that he has other options.
The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) is prepared to meet the conditions for restoring its membership in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) only if Russian athletes are allowed to compete in the 2018 Paralympics, Izvestia writes citing experts it interviewed.
According to the information obtained by the paper, representatives of the IPC and the RPC will meet in the coming weeks to deliberate on the criteria for restoring Russia’s membership in the IPC received on November 21. A high-ranking source in the Russian Paralympic Committee told Izvestia that the committee "is looking forward to a personal meeting with IPC representatives, during which the parties will be able to discuss in detail the issue of restoring Russia’s membership in the international system." "It should be held within the next two or three weeks," he added.
Oleg Smolin, Vice President of the Russian Paralympic Committee, confirmed to the paper that such a meeting is indeed planned, adding that some of the IPC’s criteria should be clarified.
He noted that the most important thing is obtaining guarantees from the International Paralympic Committee. "They should provide guarantees that, if all criteria are met, Russian athletes will indeed be allowed to compete in the 2018 Paralympic Games in South Korea," he stated. "Only then, does it make sense to continue the dialogue."
Investors have shown interest in plans by the Russian Defense Ministry to establish production and logistics centers, which should replace the existing 330 storage bases and depots, Kommersant writes. The paper found that out, by taking its cue from Andrei Bokarev, co-owner of Transmashholding, the largest manufacturer of locomotives and rail equipment in Russia, which is to build four production and logistics centers for the military, the FESCO and the SovFracht-Sovmortrans transportation groups are considering getting involved in this project.
According to a source close to the Russian Defense Ministry and a top manager one of the companies, FESCO is interested in investing in the construction and operation of several production and logistics centers. A source familiar with the talks at the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed in an interview with Kommersant that "such negotiations are in progress," adding that they are in the initial stage and "there is nothing specific yet." "FESCO is studying about 10 designs of future production and logistics centers regarding its participation. There is no final decision on investment yet," a source interviewed by the paper noted.
The SovFrancht-Sovmortans transportation and logistics holding company is interested in the construction and operation of the Sevastopol production and logistics center, said a source close to the Russian Defense Ministry. However, according to another source familiar with SovFracht’s plans, the company is interested in the production and logistics center in Arkhangelsk. SovFrancht declined to comment on the issue.
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