Exchanging tender words between Russia and the United States in recent days has reactivated analysts to the question of whether or not the improvement of relations between Russia and the United States can result in any challenges for Iran. Although no serious measures have been taken to change the current conditions of US-Russia relations, which after Georgia’s crisis had reached its worst form after the Cold War, exchanging these words shows that the grounds for probable changes in US-Russia relations are gradually emerging. With current conditions, it seems that both sides are coming to this conclusion that the continued discords and disputes can not entail their interests. A careful reading of the essence of current realities, however, shows that probable changes in US-Russia relations would not result in any serious challenges.

On August 8th of last year, when Russia advanced its army in South Ossetia to the vicinity of Tbilisi, having no concern for any probable reactions from Western supporters of Georgia, supporters with the plea of supporting the forces under the UN mandate, many observers were concerned about starting another round of increased tension between Russia and the United States. As was expected, the first reactions in the West to Russia’s intense action were controversial but facile. No one was interested in expending operational energy and power of the West for abortive confrontation with Russia. For this reason, the promise of Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state, to punish Russia was soon forgotten.

With Obama’s administration in power, it seems that the conditions are in transition to a large extent, but the important question is: how far away are the bounds of this transition? Would the probable expansion of cooperation between America and Russia have noticeable impact on Iran-Russia relations?

Both Russia and the United States have their own especial reasons for changing their policies. After Bush’s unsuccessful experience in fanning different issues in America’s foreign policy, it seems that Obama intends to focus on some more important issues. For this reason, and due to the focus of Obama’s foreign policy on eradicating terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, America has no choice but to interact with some influential countries in this process, including Russia and Iran. Russia's role can be both a challenge and a great opportunity. Russia has the potential of posing serious obstacles to US measures in Afghanistan; it can also be a great help for progressing America’s goals in the region. Therefore, if the Obama administration wants to have reasonable accomplishments in Afghanistan, it should be able to diminish the current tension with Russia.

Moreover, in the light of establishing close relations with Russia, Iran is another issue that the Obama administration hopes to settle. By trying to improve the relations with Russia, the United States hopes to impact the essence of current Iran-Russia relations in two ways: first, Iran's nuclear issue, and second, Iran-Russia's military cooperation. With regard to the nuclear power cooperation, the United States is to lessen the Iran-Russia technical cooperation, hoping that Russia will cooperate in imposing sanctions against Iran. But regarding the Iran-Russia military cooperation, America wants to stop exporting sophisticated weapons and military equipment to Iran, thereby avoiding the reviving of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Agreement.

Posing the matter of the probability of suspending the Missile Defense Shield Plan by Obama and subsequently Josef Biden’s statement at the Munich Security Conference on the necessity of reestablishing Russia-US relations, in fact emanates from America’s requirements. Achieving these goals, however, the United States encounters some fundamental obstacles.

First, the US can’t disregard its ambitious plans, including the issue of expanding NATO to the East , completely and this problem will remain as a serious obstacle to US-Russia relations in the future. As Kenneth Waltz notes, the expansion of NATO has a logic that isn’t very repressible through cooperative trends. America’s weapon industries, which are to appropriate a share of market of NATO’s new members, work hard in their lobbies to the benefit of this development. The Russians know well that America’s gesture of friendship may not last long. Raising America’s strategic priority permanently is not an issue that is forgotten completely by changing the president in the White House. Therefore, it is unlikely that Russia will become interested in such changes.

Second, The cost that the US wants to pay for acquiring Russia’s cooperation in Afghanistan and Iran is not so considerable that it can convince Russia to put behind all its cards. At present, Russia raises the cost of their cooperation in Afghanistan by wielding influence about the closing of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, and it seems that Russia also wishes to make more profit in this disturbed market, not just auctioning all its political capitals.

Third, Russia knows well that any possible deal with America on the issue of Iran would not result in any changes in Iran’s attitude and may even lead Iran to rely more on its own potentials and resources, consequently decreasing the grounds of Russia’s influence in Iran. Concerning Bushehr's nuclear power plant, according to the timetable, if Russia still wants to continue its dual game to prolong this 13-year period, it is likely that Iranian experts will set up this power plant on their own.

Lastly, regarding sophisticated military equipment, the fact is that if Russia breaks off its cooperation with Iran, with Iran’s technical progress and also the equipment which Russia has already given to Iran in the path of cooperation, surely Iran will not sustain any strategic loss. The experience of launching Safir-e-Omid satellite shows that Iran has the ability to supply its needs in times of emergency. Meanwhile, spoiling the present friendly relations with Iran will eliminate the present harmony and sense of friendship between the two countries in different grounds of cooperation such as the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and the Caucasus issues.