Iran's government has sent a bill to parliament to approve the outlines of a cooperation agreement with Russia for information and intelligence cybersecurity.
Rouydad 24 news website in Tehran briefly mentioning the bill and asked the opinion of two lawmakers, who did not have full information about what the agreement exactly stands for. Apparently, the proposal was adopted by the government in May, and it sent a brief note to parliament recently soliciting its blessing. This is also odd because it is not a treaty requiring official parliament approval.
Alireza Pakfetrat, a lawmaker from Shiraz, claimed in an interview on Saturday [July 16] with Rouydad 24 that "Iran is a superpower not any smaller than Russia." He said that Tehran should deal with Moscow based on equality and give only as much as it receives. The government should also safeguard sensitive information, whether in relation to Russia or any other country.
The bill refers to “information” but the Persian term etela’at could mean both "information" and "intelligence.”
The proposed agreement popped out as Russian leader Vladimir Putin was slated to visit Tehran and meet with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei next week. Some see his visit as a sign of alliance between the two countries and a signal to indicate that Russia is standing alert to developments in the Persian Gulf. The lawmaker's comments could be a prelude to Putin's visit.
Pakfetrat spoke about Iran's power on the same day that leaders of Persian Gulf littoral states expressed concern over Iran's threats to the region's security during a summit with US President Joe Biden, who said the United States will not leave the region to Russia, China and Iran.
Iranian lawmaker Alireza Pakfetrat. Undated
IRGC-linked Tasnim News Agency on Friday broke the news about the launching of Iranian navy’s first drone carriers and posted a picture of a drone-carrying vessel. At the same time, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan twice this week insisted that Iran might be getting ready to sell military drones to Russia to be used in Ukraine.
The agreement with Russia is also aimed at facilitating "investment in the infrastructure of information security," as well as expanding cooperation in the areas of security and exchanging information/intelligence.
The discussion of security cooperation and information sharing with Russia marks a turning point in Iran's position on the issue. For many years Tehran has been insisting on the secrecy of its information. According to Rouydad24, critics say the bill shows the extent of Russian infiltration in the Iranian establishment.
Pakfetrat said: "We are still committed to the 'Neither East, Nor West' motto, so our cooperation with Russia should take place on the condition that Iran's security secrets do not fall in the hands of other countries."
He claimed that the parliament is equally sensitive to Iran's exchanges with other countries and there is no difference in this regard between Russia and other states. "We will not allow any infiltration," he insisted.
Meanwhile, ‘reformist’ lawmaker Massoud Pezeshkian said he was not aware of the details of the bill, "however, I am sure every country is following its own interests. If Russia comes to us, it is for the sake of its own benefit. Our politicians should consider Iran's interests and not allow the other side to do whatever it wishes."
Asked if this was against the "Neither East, Nor West" motto, Pezeshkian said: "We have distanced ourselves from that policy long time ago. We have let the West go and now we are part of the East."