Virtual Nabucco

More problems for the Nabucco pipeline project, which if it never actually ends up delivering gas might have a future as a soap opera. This time the sticking point has to do with Turkish transit fees, which the EU and Azerbaijan wants to set at market rates, and which Turkey wants to negotiate at a “privileged ownership” rate. Hey, why not?

Meanwhile, as John Rosenthal pointed out in a WPR piece not so long ago, the Nabucco pipeline really makes the most sense if it brings Iranian gas online. John saw that as a potential wedge Tehran could drive between the U.S. and EU,which is a bad thing. On the other hand, it’s also a potential wedge we could drive between Iran and Russia (which wants Iranian gas heading east), which is a good thing. Something that people overlook when it comes to the Russian-Iranian tactical alliance is that we’ve got way more to offer either one of them than they can offer each other. The only thing causing us problems right now is that we’ve decided to put pressure on both of them at the same time.

Part of that can be traced back to Russia’s weaker position when the Bush administration rolled back ABM and began pushing NATO eastward. And part of that has to do with Iran being in a much stronger position in the aftermath of the Iraq War. So far, we haven’t adapted to those changes in the status quo, but there’s every reason to belive that we’ve got a strong hand when it comes to either, so long as we don’t try to bluff them both out of the pot.