Hungary and Russia cooperate with Iran on nuclear projects

Just five months ago Iran and Hungary signed an agreement to expand nuclear cooperation between the two countries. The deal was inked by Ali Akbar Salehi, the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Zsolt Semjén, the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister. Mr. Semjén, a former Catholic theologian, was very excited about the nuclear deal with the Islamic state and has tried to drum up more business in Teheran.

Iran is Hungary’s new best friend. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén embraces Iranian official.

Iran also enjoys close nuclear cooperation with Russia. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met earlier with his Russian counterpart and the two countries decided to sign a memorandum on the “development of peaceful nuclear cooperation.” The Hungarian deal fits perfectly with Russian President Putin’s plans.

Hungary’s part of the deal is to develop a small 25-megawatt nuclear reactor with Iran; the project “requires a lot of scientific work to come up with such a design.”

Mr. Semjén is not the only Hungarian politician visiting Iran. Last December Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met his friend President Hassan Rouhani and gifted him with a 175-year old map.

Prime Minister Orbán with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

A couple of weeks before Mr. László Kövér, the Hungarian House Speaker, spent an entire week in Teheran meeting with political leaders. Mr. Kövér offered Hungary’s support to Iran to fight terrorism. Mr. Kövér also suggested that Hungary could represent an important “entry point” into Europe for Iran. (Read about Mr. Kövér’s visit here.)

Hungarian Parliament Speaker Kövér with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Hungary as “entry point” for Iranian aspirations in Europe? The timing of Hungary’s friendship with Iran couldn’t be worse.

President Donald Trump recently called the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated under the Obama administration an “embarrassment.” Trump said, “We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.”

The Orbán Government’s diplomacy is in shambles. Many of us question the competence of the young foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó,  and his freshly appointed diplomats. Most of them are Orbán loyalists with no foreign political experience; some even unable to speak a foreign language. Mr. Szijjártó is in New York at the UN General Assembly where he has made aggressive statements threatening Ukraine, Romania and Croatia. (Read more about the issues here.)

Mr. Semjén has recently inked a nuclear deal with Iranian officials.

At this point, it is a waste of time to find logic in Hungary’s foreign policy strategy; the country’s politicians are randomly posturing with empty nationalist statements. Hungary’s foreign diplomacy is in utter chaos.

György Lázár

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