Kazakhstan’s ‘Multi-Vector’ Foreign Policy & Increased Economic Ties With Iran

Via The Foreign Policy Association, a report that Iran and Kazakhstan are working towards improved economic ties.  As the article notes:

“…The Iranian and Kazakh presidents met Monday in the Kazakh capital of Astana and signed a series of mutually beneficial deals that will also pay dividends to other countries. President Nazarbayev said he supports Iran’s right to have nuclear energy but believed it should be developed in a transparent way so as to not  worry the rest of the world.  He pushed for the creation of a nuclear fuel bank from which Iran could procure uranium and have safe nuclear power. President Ahmadinejad defended his country’s right to enrich uranium while praising his counterpart’s plan.

Another important issue raised at the meeting was the Caspian Sea. Iran has the least profitable coastline and has pressed for the sea to be equally divided, as a lake would be, while Kazakhstan has argued for establishing a sovereign coastal area extending to an agreed upon midway point. It seems that Iran agreed with Nazarbayev, who offered “to establish sovereign zones, extending 22 to 25 miles from the shore, which would be considered state territory. I think this would be a good compromise.” They also agreed not to fish sturgeon, the source of black caviar and dangerously overfished, for ten years.

In general, ties and trade are growing rapidly between the two states. Kazakhstan has been shipping oil to northern Iranian ports in exchange for Iran shipping oil out of its southern ports for them. In the last few years, Kazakhstan has agreed to build oil refineries near these northern ports.

This meeting is being praised within Iran as it can only serve to strengthen its regional standing. Good relations between Kazakhstan and Iran also fits into the growing ties between India and Kazakhstan. Iran would be a crucial transit country for the more than $232 million dollars in trade between India and Kazakhstan.

Overall, it seems as though Kazakhstan, even in the midst of the economic crisis, is looking to expand its vaunted ‘multi-vector’ foreign policy. While standing next to Ahmadinejad, Nazarbayev praised Obama for seeking to reduce nuclear weapon arsenals.  On April 7, the Kazakh parliament’s press service invited Obama to visit at his earliest convenience. At the time, Obama was in Turkey at an international conference in Turkey promoting East-West dialogue. It seems Nazarbayev is trying to promote his state as another Turkey like country: moderately Islamic and able to mediate between America and its enemies, while gaining a lot for itself economically and politically in the process. It may have succeeded as a middleman as now Iran has announced that it is reviewing the possibility of rejoining direct talks with the US and five other world powers. The Kazakh trip likely had a good deal to do with that.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 5:36 am and is filed under Iran, Kazakhstan.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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