Iranian media have been speculating about reasons why Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitryi Rogozin this week canceled his planned trip to Tehran. Rogozin was due to hold talks with top Iranian officials, including Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan. According to , Rogozin was “expected to discuss the prospects for bilateral cooperation, particularly in the field of aircraft construction, and the issue of the purchase of Russian aircraft by the Islamic Republic.” However, another Iranian website suggested that Rogozin had cancelled the trip after the Iranian side had made public his planned trip to Tehran. Meanwhile, reported that Rogozin was due to press the Iranians on the question of Iranian preference to buy Western aircraft over Russian-made aircraft.
Comment: This is the last episode in the turbulent relationship between Tehran and Moscow. It is improbable that Rogozin would have cancelled his trip to Tehran simply because it was revealed by Iranian officials to the media. The more likely reason is that the Iranians and the Russians have failed to agree for Iran to purchase more Russian-made high-tech platforms such as aircraft. If so, it appears that the Russians have misjudged Tehran’s latest shopping spree for new aircrafts.
On the one hand, Iran’s ailing aircraft fleet no doubt needs to be overhauled and Tehran has not only looked to Airbus and Boeing but to aircraft makers as far away as Japan, Canada and Brazil to fulfill its needs. But the Iranians also see the purchase of expensive and advanced aircraft as a way of creating political capital with manufacturing countries. This is why Tehran has been so keen to sign multi-billion dollar deals with Airbus and Boeing. The same need for generating political capital with Moscow does not exist as Iran and Russia already have considerable joint projects underway, most notably the recent agreement for Russia to build two more nuclear reactors in southern Iran. As one Iranian professor in international relations put it in Tehran Times, "it is wise for Iran not to put all its eggs in one basket."