Clearing Customs

Something fishy is going on at the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Last week I noticed a mention in the Russian press that a Russian shipment bound for the Bushehr reactor in Iran was held up three weeks ago by Azerbaijan customs officers because it supposedly lacked the proper paperwork. Now Iran is demanding the cargo be released, but Azerbaijan is still dragging its heels over concerns that the material, described as “heat-isolating equipment,” might be in violation of the U.N. sanctions against Iran.

A spokeswoman for the Russian state-run export company claimed the delay would not effect the reactor’s launch date. But the whole episode seems curious. America’s position on the Bushehr reactor has softened since Russia went ahead and shipped the nuclear fuel, under IAEA seal, to the site. Maybe the Russian fait accompli wasn’t as accompli as they thought.