The Iranians believed this Russian delay was partially due to Western pressures on Moscow but also stemmed partly from an assessment in Moscow that delaying the completion of Bushehr kept Iran’s nuclear program alive as a controversy.
First, the Russians were seen by the Iranians to deliberately be holding up the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power reactor, which had been awarded to Moscow in a 1995 contract.
The project was not a golden goose for Moscow as such.
And with Khomeini’s death coinciding roughly with the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan in early 1989—an occupation that had mobilized much of the Islamic world against Moscow—Rafsanjani should have been forgiven for believing the timing for a new chapter in relations with Iran’s northern neighbor was ripe.
Tehran’s later deep disappointment in finding out about the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement has to be seen in this context.
Even assuming that the Iranian-Russian partnership has been gradually in the making since the early 1990s, it still does not amount to an untroubled relationship.
And signs of trouble were evident from the earliest of days after the collapse of the Soviet Union, while Moscow desperately was seeking to rekindle its relations with the outside world.Over a four-year period, from June 2006 to June 2010, Russia voted to sanction Iran at the United Nations Security Council on six occasions for its nuclear activities.[v] Not once did Russia abstain or veto sanctions against Tehran at the UN.The Russians let the irritated Iranians know that, each time, they had been frantically watering down the punitive impact of the sanctions on Iran behind the scenes.Russia was certainly proving reluctant to be perceived as the guardian of an Islamic Republic that, at the time, insisted on pushing ahead with its questionable nuclear ambitions.Third, the Russian stance during the international negotiations to find a solution to Iran’s controversial nuclear program also created an impression in Tehran of Russian equivocation.The S-300 systems were meant to be an answer to Iran’s prayers for an impenetrable defense shield.