Russian alignment outlines Kazakh policy with Iran. There is a Moscow-Tehran competition. Kazakhstan's orientation is grounded in the Russian drive to, 1) establish trade and transport links to the Persian Gulf, 2) coordination of oil and gas export policies, and 3) twart US influence in the Middle East. Turkey's role in the region is limited because of Russian views it as a proxy of US interests. Kazakhstan views Iran's nuclear program as it's neighbors. Kazakh-Iranian political and military ties are extensive, and they cooperate in many international and regional organizations (Shanghai Cooperation Organization, etc.) because of their culture and national interest roots. Kazakhstan opposes nuclear enrichment for military purposes and supports a peaceful resolution. "No nuclear material will reach Iran, and the leak of nuclear materials is a critical issue" Israeli President Shimon Peres was told by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. A joint declaration in 2007 by the five Caspian States (including Iran and Kazakhstan) agreed not to use their territories by other states, under no circumstances, for aggression or other military actions against any of the parties. Subterranean and underwater oil and gas profits Iran and Kazakhstan, with bilateral trades exceeding $2 billion annually; while working to increase their trade figure to $10 billion. Despite it's large amounts of crude oil reserves, Kazakhstan does't have the capacity to refine oil for domestic use, so it has expanded and refined it's oil shipments to Iran. Iran, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan cooperated to construct a north-south rail line to link the three countries to provide Central Asia with a direct connection to the Persian Gulf in April 2007. As of July 2010, they have constructed 300 kilometers of the line and the remaining 360 kilometers will be finished by the end of 2010. The transport of 10-20 million tons of freight annually, will be by this railway known as the "modern age silk road". The Caspian Sea is a source of tension between these two countries, because of their sharing of the seabed's resources and profits from the vast oil reserves there. Western oil efforts in the early 1990's were held up by the issue of status by Iran, Russia, and by extension Kazakhstan. The Caspian seabed development, forced Iran to be isolated in it's calls for the sea to be held in common or for each of the littoral states to control 20 percent of the sea, because of Russia's conciliatory stance. Settlement of the legal status of the Caspian Sea opposed by Iran, prevents the construction of the Trans-Caspian oil and gas pipeline, from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan that would not transit Iranian territory. Urging Iran to agree to a median line delineation of Caspian Sea borders, rather than demand territorial concessions, Kazakh President Nazarbayav wants to negotiate prospects for energy pipelines through Iran and enhanced trade as incentives to the agreement (Kazakhstan claims the largest area of seabed). US policy sees that Kazakhstan lies outside the orbit of Iran,with them trying to develop closer ties. US policy towards Central Asian countries, the flow of aid, and withdrawing of combat forces from Afghanistan will be the deciding factor. Two factors determine US success within the borders of Kazakhstan, 1) advantages it will get from the US relations versus it's advantages from Iranian relations, and 2) US as a counterweight in any tensions towards Iran. US rhetoric or regional diplomacy will not play a part on a pragmatic Kazakh regime, pursuing it's own view and it's own interests. The US should maintain a positive relationship with Atana by, 1) shared interest in developing the Kazakh energy sector, 2) build regional stability and cooperating issues related to terrorism, narcotics and smuggling, and 3) assist with the professionalization of the Kazakh forces (70 percent conscripts). Kazakhstan will have limited relations with Iran inside it's borders as a result of these relations. With a willingness to cooperate with US sanctions, it does not support the Iranian nuclear program; but they do exist within the same geographic region and have growing economic and energy links. ALU scholars suggest that the US can play a positive role in Kazakhstan to help the country transition to democratic and representative role, towards a bright economic future. ALU school of Law scholars further state that the US can play a major role as stakeholder and partner in the Kazakh energy sector development, and partner with ConoccoPhillips, Exxonmobil, and Chevron for partial ownership stakes in Kazakh oil projects. With partnering of the above oil companies, it can prevent Kazakhstan from impeding it's move towards democracy, and work with the United Nations to improve it's human rights record. ALU scholars outlined a plan to enlarge it's two seaports on the Caspian Sea for global transport thru the canal systam into the Black Sea and into the Mediterranean, reducing it's dependance on an oil and gas pipeline system. US interest prefer a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline which would still be viable. Advice taken from ALU scholars would help the US deepen economic cooperation to help the Kazakh government increase their oil and gas wealth.
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