Cooperation and Competition In Foreign Policy: Toward A NewInternati


Toward a New International Regime for the Caspian Sea

Problems of Post-Communism
Vol. 52, No. 3
May/June 2005
pp. 37~V48

By Yusin Lee

The Caspian littoral states have reached an informal understanding
on how to develop the sea’s resources.

The legal dispute over the Caspian Sea began soon after the demise of
the Soviet Union in 1991. Before the collapse, the sea was governed
by the two states that controlled its coasts-the Soviet Union and
Iran, but the situation changed with the breakup of the Soviet
Union. Now there were five countries bordering the Caspian-Russia,
Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. As a result, a new
international regime for the sea was needed. The discovery of huge,
previously undetected deposits of hydrocarbon resources in the sea
added urgency to the need.1 Yet building a new regime has not been
easy, primarily because the Caspian littoral states have different
views on the proper management of the sea.

More than a decade after the Soviet collapse, the Caspian legal
regime is still in dispute. Each of the five littoral states has its
own favored resolution to the problem. In April 2004, the foreign
ministers of the five convened to work out a settlement, but no “big
agreement” came of the meeting.2 In January 2005, the sixteenth meeting
of the special working group of Caspian states to draft a convention
on the sea’s legal status similarly ended without any progress.3

The ongoing dispute has the potential to aggravate and disrupt
international relations in the Caspian region. Several confrontations
have already taken place. In July 2001, for example, an Iranian
naval vessel forced two Azerbaijani oil exploration ships away from
a disputed area. Soon afterwards Iran twice sent military aircraft
into air space claimed by Azerbaijan.4 The dispute between Azerbaijan
and Turkmenistan over oilfields in the sea also intensified, to the
extent that in April 2002 President Sapamurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan
warned that it “smacks of blood and further conflicts.”5 This did
not bode well for the stability of one of the most important areas
in the former Soviet region. Vladimir Razuvaev, a Russian expert,
accurately underscores the seriousness of the situation:

The issue of the Caspian Sea is one of the most important geopolitical
problems on the territory of the former USSR. It is here that the
interests of the world’s major powers are intertwined. It is here
that strategically crucial oilfields and fish stocks are located. It
is from here that oil and gas pipelines of vital importance to the
Caspian littoral states (including Russia) will originate.6

This article examines the Caspian legal dispute, focusing on events
since the signing in July 1998 of an agreement between Russia and
Kazakhstan on the delimitation of the northern Caspian seabed. The
study is needed because few analysts have written about recent

The Caspian Dispute After the Soviet Collapse

Many analysts mistakenly describe the Caspian legal dispute, especially
in its early stage, as a debate over whether the Caspian should be
defined as a lake or a sea.8 As they see it, a Caspian lake would
be shared by the littoral states, but if the Caspian is defined as
a sea, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea would apply. The
UN regulation implies certain distributional arrangements, including
the establishment of an exclusive economic zone for each littoral
state. Many analysts claim that the Caspian dispute, especially as
manifested between Russia and Azerbaijan, took this semantic form.
Russia, at any rate its Foreign Ministry, argued that the Caspian was a
lake and thus subject to joint sovereignty, whereas Azerbaijan asserted
that it was a sea and thus should be divided into national sectors.9

A close reading reveals a rather different picture, however. For
instance, although the Russian Foreign Ministry did say that the
Caspian was a lake and therefore that the Law of the Sea did not apply,
it never claimed that the Caspian was automatically subject to joint
control because it was a lake. Moreover, Azerbaijan also maintained
that the Caspian was a lake.10 The confusion apparently arose from
the notion that the resolution of the dispute depended on the legal
designation of the Caspian, but this is a misconception. As pointed out
by Bernard H. Oxman, an authority on the Law of the Sea, “Attempting to
determine the rights and duties of the states concerned by a process
of deductive reasoning based on the status of the Caspian Sea as a
sea or a lake is largely, if not entirely, a pointless endeavor.”11

As a matter of fact, defining the Caspian as a lake would not resolve
the question of its legal status, because the legal regimes of lakes
are based on specific agreements.12 Thane Gustafson, Aleksey Reteyum,
and Laurent Ruseckas are right in pointing out that “under typical
practice in international law, lakes and internal seas are not
normally considered subject to joint sovereignty, unless specified
by a clear treaty.”13 There are many precedents for demarcating lakes
between two or more states. Examples include the Great Lakes of North
America (between Canada and the United States), Lake Chad (between
Nigeria, Niger, and Chad), Lake Constance (between Austria, Germany,
and Switzerland), Lake Geneva (between France and Switzerland), Lake
Malawi (between Malawi and Mozambique), and Lake Victoria (between
Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda).14

If the Caspian is defined as a sea, the question of its legal
status would still be unsettled. To be sure, the 1982 UN Convention
on the Law of the Sea can help to clarify the rights of littoral
states. The law by itself, however, cannot determine how to divide the
Caspian. Even though delimitation effected by agreement in accordance
with equitable principles has gained general acceptance, there is no
single and generally recognized method of delimitation.15 Moreover,
the Convention on the Law of the Sea applies only to its members,
and Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan have not acceded to the
convention.16 Thus, settling the legal designation of the Caspian would
not facilitate a resolution of the dispute. As Guive Mirfendereski
has pointed out, whether sea or lake, it is up to the five Caspian
littoral states “to negotiate their respective boundaries on the
water.”17 The fiercest Caspian legal dispute took place between the
Russian Foreign Ministry and Azerbaijan. These two parties employed
not only the legal designation of the Caspian but also historical
precedents to substantiate and buttress their positions. The Russian
Foreign Ministry put forward the argument that the Caspian was a
lake because it is landlocked and unconnected to the world’s oceans,
and therefore it is not covered by the Law of the Sea.18 Aleksandr
Khodakov, the director of the ministry’s legal department, asserted
that the Caspian was “not a sea, but an inland lake” and thus the
Law of the Sea was inapplicable.19 Likewise, Deputy Foreign Minister
Albert Chernyshev said that the Caspian was a lake, and therefore much
depended on how the five littoral states resolved their differences.20

The Russian Foreign Ministry also maintained that Soviet-Iranian
treaties, especially the 1921 and 1940 treaties, should be the basis
for the new legal status of the Caspian Sea. The rationale was that
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan had all signed the Alma- Ata
(now Almaty) declaration of December 1991 creating the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS), and the declaration included a provision
recognizing the validity of all treaties and agreements signed
by the Soviet Union. Thus, the Russian Foreign Ministry held, the
Soviet-Iranian treaties remained in force. Since the treaties provided
that the Soviet Union and Iran had joint sovereignty over the sea,
excluding the ten-mile national zone, it should be governed jointly.21

Azerbaijan, however, adamantly argued that the Caspian should be
divided into national sectors. From the beginning of the dispute, Baku
offered a different interpretation of the legal designation of the
Caspian as a lake, holding that international norms regarding lakes
suggested the national partition. Azerbaijan’s foreign minister,
Hasan Hasanov, called for the sea to be divided, stating that the
“Caspian is a lake and the international conventions say nothing about
the status of the lakes. The talk can be only about the practice
and Azerbaijan keeps just to this practice.”22 Azerbaijan’s late
president, Heidar Aliev, was more specific in his book Azerbaijan
Oil in the World Policy:

The Caspian Sea falls under the definition of an international frontier
lake as a water basin without natural connection to the world ocean
and surrounded by land territory of two or more states. In this
connection the norms of international law, the norms of international
ordinary law, and local international agreement practice can be put as
a base of approach to determine the Caspian Sea status. International
frontiers on lakes are set up as a rule on median line. The principle
is applied to a majority of international lakes in particular Great
Lakes (USA and Canada), Tanganyika and Chad (Nigeria, Chad, Niger,
and Cameroon), Geneva Lake (Switzerland and France).23

Azerbaijan also argued that the Soviet-Iranian treaties of 1921 and
1940 were no longer in effect, citing precedents set by Moscow before
the collapse of the Soviet Union that provided for a division of
the Caspian Sea. For example, in 1949 the Soviet Union had begun to
develop mineral resources in the Caspian Sea without consulting Iran.24

This is how the legal dispute over the Caspian Sea began. Later,
other Caspian littoral states and external powers, especially the
United States, joined the dispute. The Caspian controversy had,
and has, implications for many issues, such as navigation, fisheries
management, environmental protection, and hydrocarbon resources.
However, it centers on the ownership and control of hydrocarbon
resources in the sea. The controversy began to show hopes for
a resolution in 1998. In July of that year, Russia and Kazakhstan
signed an agreement on dividing the seabed while leaving the sea’s
surface under joint control.25

The decline of Russian power, the counterproductive effects of the
Russian Foreign Ministry’s aggressive stance, and the firm position by
Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were the factors chiefly responsible for the
change in Russia’s position.26 Despite the Foreign Ministry’s warnings
that Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan should not take unilateral action in
the sea, these two states, with the support of the United States and
other external powers, continued to develop oil in their sectors.
Iurii Merzliakov, then head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Working
Group on the Caspian Sea, suggested that the country had to change
its position when other Caspian states did not stop oil development
in their sectors.27

New Dynamic of the Caspian Dispute

The dynamic of the Caspian dispute changed after the
Russian-Kazakhstani agreement in July 1998. Before the agreement, the
dispute was mainly over whether to divide the sea. Russia’s Foreign
Ministry opposed a division, while Azerbaijan favored it. After the
Russian- Kazakhstani agreement, however, the dispute was primarily
about how to partition the sea. Moscow and Astana called for the
delimitation of the seabed only, whereas Baku, Ashgabat, and Tehran
favored a division of the entire sea-the seabed, the water mass, and
the sea surface. Just one day after the Russian-Kazakhstani agreement,
the presidents of Iran and Turkmenistan issued a joint declaration
stating that neither government would observe the agreement. The
declaration then said, “Divide everything.”28 Azerbaijan’s position was
made clear in the talks between President Aliev and Russia’s deputy
foreign minister, Boris Pastukhov, in late July 1998. Aliev rejected
the Russian proposal to divide the seabed only, saying that the water
mass and the sea surface should also be divided.29 After the signing
of the Russian-Kazakhstani agreement, two groups emerged among the
Caspian states. The first group, comprising Russia and Kazakhstan,
advocates the delimitation of the seabed only. The second, consisting
of Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkmenistan, calls for the division of the
entire sea. One must add, however, that when the issue came down
to the question of exactly how the lines dividing the sea should be
drawn, the Caspian states favored different methods. This was true
especially in the second, divide-it-all group.30 A joint statement
by Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in February 1998 said that the two
countries had agreed to divide the Caspian Sea “along the median line
in accordance with the generally recognized principles and norms of
international law.”31 Nev- ertheless, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan
disagreed on how to determine the coordinates of the median line.
Baku proposed to measure it from the actual coastline, favoring this
method because the Absheron Peninsula, part of Azerbaijan, extends
far into the sea, and thus the border would move closer to the coast
of Turkmenistan.32 Ashgabat opposed the Azerbaijani method and called
for an adjustment that would make up for the protrusion of the Absheron
Peninsula, thereby giving Turkmenistan a larger share of the mid-sea
area where some of the best oil prospects lie.33

The disagreement on how to draw the median line was responsible for
the disputes between Baku and Ashgabat over several oilfields. These
disputes began before the Azerbaijan/Turkmenistan joint statement in
February 1998. In January 1997, President Niyazov of Turkmenistan
claimed that the Azeri oilfield and part of the Chirag oilfield,
which Ashgabat now calls Khazar and Osman, respectively, lay within
Turkmenistan’s territory.34 The Azeri and Chirag oilfields were being
developed by a BP-led consortium that had signed the “contract of the
century” with the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR)
in September 1994. Another dispute arose a half year later. In July
1997, SOCAR signed an agreement with Russia’s Lukoil and Rosneft on
developing the Kyapaz/ Serdar oilfield. Turkmenistan was steadfastly
opposed to the agreement, demanding that the deal be annulled
immediately. Ashgabat would only welcome “such cooperation if the
Serdar field . . . , which belongs to Turkmenistan and is referred
to in the agreement as Kyapaz, had not been included in the zone of
joint development operations [between the Russian and Azerbaijani

Iran, unlike Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, opposed the division of
the Caspian Sea along the median line because this method would
only provide Tehran with 12-13 percent of the sea.36 Instead, Iran
advocated an equitable division under which each of the five Caspian
states would get 20 percent of the sea. This claim sparked the dispute
between Iran and Azerbaijan.

In December 1998, Iran began to exercise sovereignty over the area it
considered its own. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed
a contract worth $19.8 million with Royal Dutch/Shell and a British
company, LASMO, for exploring oilfields in the southern Caspian
Sea. This brought about a “stormy reaction” in Baku. The Azerbaijani
Foreign Ministry sent protest notes to both companies and the British
and Dutch governments. The notes said that the contract area included
a portion of the Azerbaijani sector of the sea.37

Shortly thereafter, the special working group of the Caspian states
convened in Moscow to draft a convention on the legal status of
the sea. The group failed to address either the principle for the
delimitation of the sea or the method, and produced a communique that
reaffirmed the differences among the Caspian states. It stated that
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan favored “a complete division of the Caspian
Sea, meaning a division of the seabed, the surface, and the water mass
alike,” even though they disagreed on the method of division; Iran,
“while preferring a condominium-type legal regime in the Caspian Sea,
could support a complete division,” under which each Caspian state
would get 20 percent of the sea; Russia and Kazakhstan maintained that
“only the Caspian seabed should be divided, leaving the surface and
the water mass in common use.”38 The meeting certainly did not make
any progress. Nevertheless, it was “historic,” especially in the
sense that there was no longer any chance that the Caspian would be
“held in common.”39

With the tangled situation in the Caspian Sea not much changed, Russia
began to play a more active role, especially after Vladimir Putin
became president.40 In May 2000, Putin appointed Viktor Kaliuzhny,
a former minister of fuel and energy, as his special representative in
the Caspian area with the rank of deputy foreign minister.41 Kaliuzhny
set out to resolve the Caspian dispute by persuading Azerbaijan,
Turkmenistan, and Iran to support the Russian position. In July 2000,
he visited these three states in order to make his case. He proposed
that the disputed oilfield be developed on a fiftyfifty basis between
each Caspian state and its negotiating partners.42 Kaliuzhny said
in Baku that Moscow did not regard Azerbaijan’s Azeri and Chirag
oilfields as dis- puted. But he noted that Russia had called for joint
development of the disputed fields, among them the Kiapaz/Serdar
oilfield claimed by both Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Baku did
not respond with a clear answer on Kaliuzhny’s proposal for the
division of the seabed in conjunction with joint development of
disputed oilfields. Baku clung to the idea of dividing the entire
sea.43 Kaliuzhny also failed to persuade Turkmenistan to support
the Russian proposal.44 Nor did his visit to Tehran have a positive
outcome. Iran rejected the Russian proposal, insisting that either
the Caspian remain in common jurisdiction by all five states or be
divided equally, 20 percent for each.45

Azerbaijan Changes Its Stance

Azerbaijan changed its position in January 2001, moving toward
the Russian position. President Putin, visiting Baku, came to an
understanding with President Aliev on the need to divide the seabed
along the median line while holding the sea surface in joint control.46
Putin and Aliev issued a joint statement calling for “a stage by stage
approach,” since there were still substantial differences between
the littoral states about the legal status of the Caspian Sea. In
the first stage, the statement proposed “to demarcate the bottom of
the Caspian between the relevant contiguous and opposite states into
sectors or zones by using equidistant points to draw a median line
which can be modified by agreement between the sides and also taking
into consideration generally accepted principles of international
law and current Caspian practice.”47

Rossiiskaia gazeta speculated that Azerbaijan’s heavy reliance on the
Russian pipeline was a primary reason why Baku had moved toward the
Russian position. After signing around thirty documents between 1993
and 2000 on building the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, the West still had not
invested much in this project. As a result, the Russian pipeline route
became a principal conduit for Azerbaijan’s oil. As a matter of fact,
in December 2000 Baku agreed to transport more oil through the Russian
pipeline route in exchange for a decrease in Russian transit prices.
Azerbaijan’s dependence on the Russian pipeline route forced Baku to
soften its position.48

Nevertheless, this was not the only reason for Azerbaijan’s move. The
fact that the question of hydrocarbon resources in the sea was the
most critical issue for Azerbaijan also played an important role. To
be more precise, among the many issues regarding the Caspian legal
regime, such as navigation, fisheries management, environmental
protection, and hydrocarbon resources, Azerbaijan was primarily
interested in hydrocarbon resources. Merzliakov, then head of the
Russian Foreign Ministry’s Working Group on the Caspian Sea, was
right in saying, “It is more or less obvious that the new members of
the Caspian club [Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan] would have
never raised the question of the Caspian legal status if not [for]
its considerable oil and gas resources under the seabed.”49 Thus
Azerbaijan did not lose much by moving toward the Russian position.
After the Russian-Azerbaijani agreement, the dynamic of the Caspian
dispute shifted slightly, for now a majority of the littoral states
favored the division of the seabed only.

Russian-Iranian Summit

Two months later, however, Russia appeared to back away from its
proposal to divide the seabed only. At the Russian-Iranian summit in
March 2001, Putin and Mohammad Khatami issued a joint declaration on
the legal status of the Caspian Sea stating that neither side would
take “abrupt actions.” To be more specific, Russia and Iran agreed
not to recognize any borders in the Caspian Sea until its legal
status was resolved. Moreover, they would regard all agreements
on the legal status of the Caspian Sea as valid if “passed with
the general agreement of the five Caspian States.”50 Astana and
Baku interpreted the Russian-Iranian joint declaration as Russia’s
cancellation of its bilateral agreements with Kazakhstan (1998) and
Azerbaijan (2001). Thus, Astana and Baku reacted negatively to the
declaration. A few days later after the declaration, Kaliuzhny went
to Astana to clarify the Russian position. As he later admitted, his
reception in Kazakhstan was “decidedly chilly.”51 A senior diplomatic
source in Azerbaijan noted that the Russian- Iranian joint statement
was “inconsistent with earlier agreements between Russia, Kazakhstan,
and Azerbaijan that advocate the division of the Sea into national
sectors.”52 However, Moscow stressed that the Russian-Iranian joint
declaration did not cancel all bilateral agreements. While in Astana
in March 2001, Kaliuzhny assured the Kazakhstani prime minister,
Kasymzhomart Tokaev, that the joint declaration did not imply that
Russia was canceling its 1998 agreement with Kazakhstan. In his words,
“Russia has not departed and will not depart from the principles set
down in the agreement.”53 Kaliuzhny further clarified the Russian
position in an interview. Astana, he said, interpreted the joint
declaration as meaning that Russia supported “the Iranian idea of
a condominium- the common right of all Caspian states to any oil
field on the seabed in whatever part of the Caspian it might be
located.” This was not the case, he explained; the joint declaration
meant that bilateral agreements did not rule out the possibility of
reaching a consensus among the Caspian states on the legal status of
the sea. The condominium principle, Kaliuzhny emphasized, threatened
“to demolish all the current oil projects that have already been
started in the Caspian,” thus Russia would abide by its bilateral
agreement with Kazakhstan.54 Kaliuzhny made similar points during
his visit to Baku. He stated that Russia would not “drop the accords
on the Caspian Sea which were made during President Vladimir Putin’s
visit to Azerbaijan in January [2001].”55 The analysts were right,
after all. Before the Russian-Iranian summit in March 2001, they had
doubted that Russia would renege on its agreements with Kazakhstan
and Azerbaijan in order to meet Iran’s demand.56

Increasing Tension in the Caspian Sea

The Caspian dispute led to increasing tension, especially among
Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Iran, in mid-2001. For example,
Turkmenistan called for a moratorium on Azerbaijan’s efforts to
develop the disputed Azeri and Chirag oilfields. Baku ignored
the demand and continued to develop the two areas. In response,
Turkmenistan closed its embassy in Azerbaijan in June 2001.57 The
dispute between Azerbaijan and Iran intensified and reached the point
of employing military means. On July 21, 2001, Iran warned that it
would prevent foreign firms working with Baku from developing the Araz/
Alov/Sharg oilfields that Tehran claimed as its own.58 Two days later,
an Iranian naval vessel forced two Azerbaijani oil exploration ships
operated by BP- Amoco away from a disputed area of the Caspian Sea,
and Iran then sent military aircraft twice into air space claimed by
Azerbaijan. In response, Baku urged Tehran to stop increasing tension
in the area and to resolve the issue through negotiations.

Tehran rejected Baku’s demarche and warned that it would bear no
responsibility for “what might follow” if oil development in the
disputed area continued. Tehran began massing troops on its border with
Azerbaijan and recalled its ambassador for consultations.59 Tehran also
demonstrated its naval power in the vicinity of the disputed area.60
Iran’s reason for taking such steps at this point was probably the
significant shift in the balance of power in favor of the Azerbaijani
position on the Caspian’s legal status. Under the circumstances, Iran
wanted to demonstrate that it would not back down. Put another way,
Iran had already softened its position once by saying that it was
willing to accept an equitable division under which each of the five
Caspian states would get 20 percent of the sea. Tehran now wanted to
indicate that it would make no more concessions.

Soon after the incident, Ankara and Washington intervened. The Turkish
Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to Ankara to tell
him that Turkey opposed Iran’s actions in the Caspian Sea.61 Turkey
also sent ten F-5 fighters to stage an air show in the skies of Baku
on August 24-25, 2001. The air show, according to Vremia MN, was aimed
at demonstrating Ankara’s support for Baku’s position on the Caspian
issue.62 During her visit to Baku in August 2001, Elizabeth Jones,
U.S. assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, stated
that Washington would provide Azerbaijan with financial assistance
for its border troops confronting Iran.63

In these circumstances, a swift resolution of the Caspian dispute
became urgent. Indeed, Russia expressed the opinion that the Caspian
states should speed up efforts to resolve the dispute. Diplomatic
sources in Moscow proposed, in early August 2001, that a summit of the
littoral states be held as early as possible. The sources stated,
“The earlier the ‘Caspian Five’ leaders meet, the better, because
as the development of events shows, tension over the status of the
Caspian Sea is increasing, and is already causing conflicts between the
littoral states.”64 Likewise, in late August 2001 Kaliuzhny emphasized
the need for a swift settlement of the dispute. In his words, “The
more we drag things out, the more problems [related to the legal
status of the Caspian Sea] arise and tension in relations grows.”65

Caspian Summit and More Negotiations

A speedy resolution of the Caspian dispute was by no means easy. To
be sure, there was a positive step forward in late 2001. In November
of that year, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the
division of the seabed.66 This officially led to a consensus among
the so-called northerners-Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. But
Turkmenistan and Iran did not join them. For example, in January 2002
the Russian-Turkmenistani summit only produced a joint communique
stating that both countries wanted a speedy resolution of the
dispute.67 Negotiations between Baku and Tehran over the legal status
of the Caspian Sea in March 2002 similarly did not yield any positive

A summit of the five Caspian states took place in April 2002
after several delays, but it too ended without any progress. The
summit reaffirmed the differences among the Caspian states. Three
countries-Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan-advocated dividing
the seabed along the median line and holding the sea surface in
common. Turkmenistan agreed on the principle of dividing the sea but
not on the method.69 Speaking to journalists on the first day of the
Caspian summit, Niyazov clarified the conflict between Turkmenistan and
Azerbaijan. Until maritime boundaries were divided, he said, no country
had the right to unilaterally develop the disputed oilfields. He then
asked Aliev to stop developing the oilfields. Niyazov cited, as an
example, the Kyapaz/Serdar field, which is located 84 kilometers from
Turkmenistan and 184 kilometers from Azerbaijan. “This smacks of
blood and further conflicts. . . . You can’t solve a problem if you
take only your own national interests into account.” Niyazov asked
the journalists to leave without giving Aliev a chance to respond.70
Iran disagreed with both the principle and method of dividing the
Caspian Sea. President Khatami reiterated his country’s long-standing
stance that Iran should have at least 20 percent of the Caspian Sea.71
Azerbaijan’s news agency, Turan, skillfully summarized the summit
of the Caspian five when it wrote, “In the very first hours of the
dialogue between the presidents, the ‘bubble’ of illusion linked to
a possible liberalization of Iran’s position and to a certain degree
Turkmenistan’s, burst.”72

The Caspian summit demonstrated, in particular, that resolving the
dispute on a consensual basis among the five coastal states would
be extremely difficult. Probably because of this, Putin stated at
Astrakhan, shortly after the summit, “Should it prove impossible to
reach agreement on all problems with all the Caspian States, Russia
considers it appropriate to settle individual issues bilaterally with
its neighbors.”73 Likewise, Niyazov told the Cabinet of Ministers
that the issue of the Caspian’s legal status could be tackled on a
bilateral basis.74 Kazakhstan expressed a similar view. Its foreign
minister, Tokaev, noted that Kazakhstan would seek to resolve the
Caspian dispute bilaterally because the Caspian states had “failed
to reach a common opinion on the Caspian Sea status, as was proved by
the actually fruitless recent summit of littoral countries in Ashgabat
[in April 2002].”75

However, bilateral talks did not turn out to be a panacea for resolving
the Caspian dispute. It is true that the talks brought about some
progress. In May 2002, Putin and Nazarbaev signed a protocol related
to the 1998 Russian-Kazakhstan agreement regarding the division of the
north Caspian seabed along the median line. The protocol established
the geographical coordinates of the median line. It also stipulated
that the Kurmangazy, Khvalynskoe, and Tsentralnoe oilfields across the
median line would be developed jointly on a fifty-fifty basis between
the two countries.76 A few days later, during his meeting with Stephen
Mann, the adviser on Caspian issues to the U.S. secretary of state,
Aliev noted that Baku was “ready to sign an agreement with Russia on
dividing the Caspian seabed” similar to the 2002 Russian- Kazakhstani
protocol.77 As a matter of fact, in September 2002 Azerbaijan and
Russia signed an agreement on the division of the Caspian seabed.78 In
February 2003, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan signed an agreement similar
to the 2002 Russian-Kazakhstani protocol.79 As a result, the northern
part of the Caspian seabed was officially delimited among Russia,
Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan.

Two Southerners

Despite this progress, however, bilateral talks did not resolve the
disputes in the southern part of the Caspian Sea. Negotiations between
Azerbaijan and Iran did not produce any positive outcomes. During
his visit to Tehran in May 2002, Aliev sought to resolve the dispute
by proposing the joint development of the Araz/Alov/Sharg fields, the
same sector that had sparked the military conflict in July 2001. Tehran
did not accept the proposal.80 Thereinafter, Baku and Tehran held at
least four bilateral talks before January 2003, and all these meetings
ended without any progress.81 During this period, Azerbaijan and
Turkmenistan did not even negotiate. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan and Iran
joined in an alliance against the Caspian northerners. In March 2003,
Ashgabat and Tehran signed an agreement on the division of the southern
sector of the Caspian Sea and joint development of resources in the
sea. According to a source in Turkmenistan, Ashgabat and Tehran agreed
to divide the seabed “in strict accordance with the UN convention on
maritime law and the norms and principles of international law.”82
The agreement, however, did not specify what all these principles
implied. Thus, Rustam Mammadov, an Azerbaijani legal specialist,
was correct in saying that the Turkmenistani-Iranian agreement was
“all too confused.”83 Nevertheless, the agreement appeared to mean
that Ashgabat and Tehran favored a division under which each Caspian
state would get 20 percent of the sea. This was especially true given
Iran’s continuing insistence that the sea should be divided into five
equal parts.84 As a result, a situation called three-plus-two emerged
in the Caspian basin: the three northerners (Russia, Azerbaijan,
and Kazakhstan) were on one side, and the two southerners (Iran and
Turkmenistan) were on the other.

The deadlock in the bilateral talks between Azerbaijan and the
two southerners obviously did not facilitate the resolution of the
dispute on a consensual basis. This was true especially on the issue
of dividing energy reserves. The special working group to draft
a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea conducted four
rounds of negotiations between May and December 2003 and certainly
made some progress. For example, the ninth meeting of the special
working group in May 2003 yielded a trilateral agreement among the
northerners on the division of the seabed. This agreement, according
to Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Abuseitov of Kazakhstan, was “mostly
technical” in that the northerners signed what they had “documented
earlier” in their bilateral agreements.85 In addition, at the tenth
meeting of the special working group in July 2003, all five states
came to an understanding on a convention for the protection of the
marine environment of the Caspian Sea.86 This eventually led to the
signing of the convention in November 2003. The convention was of
great significance because it was the first document signed by all five
Caspian states.87 Furthermore, Mehdi Safari, Iran’s special envoy on
Caspian affairs, said at the twelfth meeting of the special working
group in December 2003 that the five states had agreed on 60-65
percent of the document regarding the legal regime of the Caspian
Sea.88 Nonetheless, the states were unable to agree on the most
critical issue: dividing the sea’s energy reserves. This deadlock is
probably why the second Caspian summit was postponed. In April 2004,
the foreign ministers of the five coastal states had agreed to hold
a Caspian summit in Tehran in mid-2004, but it did not take place.89
Early the following year a senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official
announced that the summit had been postponed again.


It is easy to be pessimistic about the likelihood that the Caspian
dispute will be resolved in the near future, especially given the
fact that neither northerners nor southerners have yet shown any
willingness to make concessions. Kaliuzhny, for instance, asserted
in April 2004 that the trilateral agreement among the northerners on
the delimitation of the Caspian Sea would never be reconsidered.91
In contrast, Iran has held fast to its longstanding position that
the Caspian Sea should be divided into five equal parts. An Iranian
Foreign Ministry official, Hamid R. Asefi, issued a statement on the
legal status of the Caspian Sea in January 2005 while President Ilham
Aliev, who succeeded his father in 2003 as president of Azerbaijan,
was on an official visit to Iran. Asefi declared that Iran considered
20 percent of the sea as its own territory and would not allow anyone
to explore for oil in its sector.92

Moreover, the territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan
over the Serdar/Kyapaz oilfield in the sea began to flare up in
2005. In January 2005, Turkmenistan approved a plan by Buried Hill
Energy, a Canadian company, to participate in the development of
the Serdar/Kyapaz field.93 This caused a strong reaction on the part
of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s state-owned oil company, SOCAR, stated
that it had “no doubt” that the oilfield belonged to Azerbaijan and
that Azerbaijan was going to develop it itself.94 Xalaf Xalafov,
Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister, warned Turkmenistan against
any unilateral actions in the Serdar/Kyapaz oilfield.95 In response,
the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry accused Baku of “negligence and
acting against the existing laws.”96 These differences are obviously
inhibiting a full resolution of the dispute and will probably have
a negative impact on stability in the Caspian region.

Nevertheless, there are important signs that a resolution of the
Caspian dispute will be possible in the near future. Despite the
absence of a formal resolution, an informal regime based on existing
practices has begun to emerge. The lack of consensus on the legal
status of the Caspian Sea has not prevented the five states from
developing its hydrocarbon resources except in several disputed
oilfields. The northerners-Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan-did not
stop developing hydrocarbon resources in their sector because of the
absence of consensus on the legal status of the sea. For example,
as Kaliuzhny pointed out in July 2003, the Russian parliament
ratified the country’s agreement with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan
on dividing the seabed along the median line.97 He then stressed,
“The problem of the Caspian Sea, from the point of view of energy
resources, has been settled for those countries [the northerners].
The northern part of the sea is fully open for business and investment,
and has legal protection.”98 Two other Caspian states also have not
stopped developing hydrocarbon resources in the sea. A foreign company
operating in Turkmenistan continued its explorations and discovered
major energy reserves in that country’s sector of the sea in August
2002.99 Iran has also continued to develop its energy resources, even
though it maintains that any unilateral measure would be illegal if
not approved by all the Caspian states.100 Iran’s deputy oil minister,
Akbar Torkan, announced in April 2003 that Iran would begin a series
of drilling operations in the southern part of the sea. Torkan noted
that the Caspian dispute would not halt the drilling operations.
He added that the dispute pertained “only to a small [disputed] section
of the sea.”101 A senior Iranian oil industry official announced
in January 2005 that the country would begin drilling oil in the
Caspian Sea sometime in 2005.102 Although not a formal resolution,
the emergence of an informal regime based on existing practices is
cause for optimism about the Caspian dispute and the possibility of
cooperation and peaceful economic development in the Caspian region.


1. Vladimir Babak, “Neft Kaspiia v Otnosheniiakh
Kazakhstana s
Rossiei” (Caspian Gas in Kazakhstan’s Relations with
Russia), Tsentralnaia
Aziia i Kavkaz 1, no. 2 (1999): 120-21.

2. Nezavisimaia gazeta (April 7, 2004), via Current
Digest of the Post-
Soviet Press (CDPSP) (May 5, 2004).

3. Turan (January 31, 2005), via World News Connection

4. Economist (August 4, 2001), via Lexis-Nexis.

5. Obshchaia gazeta (April 25-May 1, 2002), via CDPSP
(May 22, 2002).

6. Segodnia (September 8, 1995), via Integrum World
Wide (IWW).

7. See, for example, Gawdat Bahgat, “Splitting Water:
The Geopolitics
of Water Resources in the Caspian Sea,” SAIS Review
22, no. 2 (summer/
fall 2002): 273-92.

8. John Roberts, “Energy Reserves, Pipeline Routes,
and the Legal
Regime in the Caspian Sea,” in The Security of the
Caspian Sea Region, ed.
Gennady Chufrin (New York: Oxford University Press,
2001), p. 64.

9. See, for example, Gawdat Bahgat, “The Caspian Sea
Game: Prospects for the New Millennium,” OPEC Review
23, no. 3 (September
1999): 202; Michael Croissant and Cynthia Croissant,
“The Legal
Status of the Caspian Sea: Conflict and Compromise,”
in Oil and Geopolitics
in the Caspian Sea Region, ed. Michael P. Croissant
and Bulent Aras
(Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999), p. 21; Shams-Ud-Din,
“Caspian Sea-The
Politics of Oil,” in Geopolitics and Energy Resources
in Central Asia and
Caspian Sea Region, ed. Shams-Ud-Din (New Delhi:
Lancers Books, 2000),
p. 7; Robert Ebel, Energy Choices in the Near Abroad:
The Haves and
Have-Nots Face the Future (Washington, DC: Center for
Strategic and International
Studies, 1997), pp. 29-30; Brent Griffith, “Back Yard
Russia’s Foreign Policy toward the Caspian Basin,”
Demokratizatsiya, 6,
no. 2 (Spring 1998): 430; Bijian Khajehpour-Khouei,
“Survey of Iran’s
Economic Interests in the Caspian,” in The Caspian
Region at a Crossroad:
Challenges of a New Frontier of Energy and
Development, ed.
Hooshang Amirahmadi (New York: St. Martin’s Press,
2000), p. 83; Jim
MacDougall, “Russian Policy in the Transcaucasian
‘Near Abroad’: The
Case of Azerbaijan,” Demokratizatsiya 5, no. 1 (Winter
1997): 94; Peter
Rutland, “Oil, Politics, and Foreign Policy,” in The
Political Economy of
Russian Oil, ed. David Lane (Lanham, MD: Rowman &
Littlefield, 1999),
p. 172; Bulent Aras, The New Geopolitics of Eurasia
and Turkey’s Position
(Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 2002), pp. 38-39.

10. Sergei Vinogradov and Patricia Wouters, “The
Caspian Sea: Quest
for a New Legal Regime,” Leiden Journal of
International Law 9 (March
1996): 94.

11. Bernard H. Oxman, “Caspian Sea or Lake: What
Difference Does It
Make?” Caspian Crossroads 1, no. 4 (winter 1996): 12.

12. Sergei Vinogradov and Patricia Wouters, “The
Caspian Sea: Current
Legal Problems,” Heidelberg Journal of International
Law 55, no. 2
(1995): 614.

13. Thane Gustafson, Aleksey Reteyum, and Laurent
Ruseckas, The
Caspian Sea: Whose Waters? Whose Oil? (Cambridge, MA:
Energy Research Associates, 1995), p. 14.

14. Croissant and Croissant, “Legal Status of the
Caspian Sea,” p. 26;
Scott Horton and Natik Mamedov, “Legal Status of the
Caspian Sea,” in
The Caspian Region at a Crossroad, p. 267; Bahram
Rajaee, “Regional
Geopolitics and Legal Regimes: The Caspian Sea and
U.S. Policy,” International
Politics 37, no. 1 (March 2000): 85.

15. Vinogradov and Wouters, “Caspian Sea: Current
Legal Problems,”
p. 614.

16. Horton and Mamedov “Legal Status of the Caspian
Sea,” p. 265.

17. Guive Mirfendereski, A Diplomatic History of the
Caspian Sea:
Treaties, Diaries, and Other Stories (New York: St.
Martin’s Press, 2001),
p. ix.

18. Horton and Mamedov, “Legal Status of the Caspian
Sea,” p. 266.

19. Financial Times (March 3 1995), via Lexis-Nexis.

20. AZG Armenia Daily (April 29, 1995) in Foreign
Broadcast Information
Service, Central Eurasia (FBIS-SOV) (June 9, 1995): 1.

21. Horton and Mamedov, “Legal Status of the Caspian
Sea,” p. 266.
See also Shua Bolukbasi, “The Controversy over the
Caspian Sea Mineral
Resources: Conflicting Perceptions, Clashing
Interests,” Europe-Asia Studies
50, no. 3 (May 1998): 408.

22. Turan (November 1, 1995), via FBIS-SOV (November
2, 1995): 72.
Azerbaijan argued on numerous occasions that the
Caspian was a lake.
See, for instance, Kommersant-Daily (October 14,
1994); Nezavismaia
gazeta (November 14, 1996); Rossiiskaia gazeta
(November 13, 1996);
ITAR-TASS World Service (August 2, 1997), via WNC.

23. Heidar Aliev, Azerbaijan Oil in the World Policy
(Baku: “Azerbaijan”
Publishing House, 1997), p. 317.

24. Ibid., p. 319.

25. Kommersant Daily (July 7, 1998), via WNC.

26. Abraham S. Becker, Russia and Caspian Oil: Moscow
Loses Control
(Washington, DC: Rand, 1998): pp. 42-51; Iurii
Fedorov, “Kaspiiskaia
politika Rossii: k konsensusu elit” (Russia’s Caspian
Politics: Toward an
Elite Consensus), Pro et Contra 2, no. 3 (1997):

27. Delovaia nedelia (April 24, 1998), via IWW.

28. Kommersant Daily noted that the position of
Turkmenistan and Iran
coincided with that of Azerbaijan. See Kommersant
Daily (July 18, 1998),
via CDPSP (August 5, 1998).

29. Izvestia (July 31, 1998), via Russian Press Digest

30. The 1998 Russian-Kazakhstani agreement on the
division of the
Caspian seabed along the median line did not determine
the coordinates of
the line. It was only in May 2002 that Moscow and
Astana reached an
agreement on this. See Interfax (May 13, 2002), via

31. Turan (February 6, 1998), via WNC.

32. Energy Information Administration, “Caspian Sea
Region: Legal
Issues” (July 2002).

33. Mehrdad Haghayeghi, “The Coming of Conflict to the
Caspian Sea,”
Problems of Post-Communism, 50, no. 3 (May/June 2003):
In May 2001,
Turkmenistan criticized the Azerbaijani method of
delimitation as “based
on a mathematical definition of the border line at an
equal distance from
the islands located in the center of the Caspian Sea.”
See Interfax (May 3,
2001), via WNC. For more discussion of the dispute,
see Vremia novostei
(May 8, 2001), via CDPSP (June 6, 2001); Turan
(November 1, 2001), via

34. Interfax (January 31, 1997), via WNC.

35. Interfax (July 8, 1997), via WNC.

36. Various individuals offered slightly different
shares for each Caspian
state. For example, Russia’s deputy foreign minister,
Boris Pastukhov, noted
in 1998 that the division of the Caspian seabed along
the median line would
provide Iran with 14 percent of the seabed, Russia 16
percent, Azerbaijan
18 percent, Kazakhstan 29 percent, and Turkmenistan 22
percent. See ITARTASS
(August 3, 1998), via WNC. Abbas Maleki, chair of the
Institute for Caspian Studies, said in 2001 that the
division of the Caspian
Sea along the median line would provide with Iran 13.6
percent of the sea,
Russia 19 percent, Azerbaijan 21 percent, Kazakhstan
28.4 percent, and
Turkmenistan 18 percent. See Abbas Maleki, “The Legal
Status of the
Caspian Sea: Discussions on Different Iranian Views,”
Caspian Studies
(April 2001), available at

37. Izvestia (December 17, 1998), via RPD.

38. Nezavisimaia gazeta (December 22, 1998), via CDPSP
20, 1999).

39. Ibid.

40. Less than one month after his election as
president in March 2000,
Putin also called for the country’s oil companies to
take a more active role
in the Caspian Sea. He stated, “We should develop a
clear understanding of
the fact that the interest our partners in Turkey, the
UK, and the U.S. are
displaying toward the Caspian resources is not
accidental. It is largely due
to our passivity. . . . We will cooperate with [other
countries], we will respect
the interests of other participants of the Caspian
projects, but Russia
will also observe its own interests.” See Financial
Times (April 22, 2000),
via Lexis-Nexis. Relying on the assessments of several
observers, the Financial
Times noted that Russia’s assertiveness was not
necessarily an attempt
to reestablish hegemony over its former colonies.
Rather, it was closely
linked to “common economic needs” with the Caspian
region. See Financial
Times (April 28, 2000).

41. Segodnia (May 29, 2000), via RPD.

42. Kaliuzhny said in an interview, “If we agree on
this [fifty-fifty]
principle, the problem of the status of the sea may be
settled within a day.”
See Vremia novostei (October 4, 2000), via RPD.

43. Nezavisimaia gazeta (July 18, 2000), via CDPSP
(August 16, 2000).

44. Izvestia (July 20, 2000), via CDPSP (August 16,

45. Vremia novostei (August 3, 2000), via CDPSP
(August 30, 2000).

46. Izvestia (January 10, 2001), via CDPSP (February
7, 2001); Financial
Times (January 10, 2001), via Lexis-Nexis. The
English-language daily
Iran News criticized the Russian approach. At first,
the newspaper noted
that a 20 percent share of the Caspian Sea’s resources
for each of the five
coastal states would be “equitable and fair.” It then
pointed out that Russia’s
agreements with Kazakhstan in 1998 and Azerbaijan in
2001 are “confusing
and unproductive.” See IRNA (Tehran) (January 13,
2001), via WNC.

47. ITAR-TASS (January 9, 2001), via WNC.

48. Rossiiskaia gazeta (January 19, 2001), via WNC.

49. Iurii Merzliakov, “Legal Status of the Caspian
Sea,” International
Affairs 45, no 1 (1999): 33.

50. Interfax (March 12, 2001), via WNC.

51. Kommersant (March 16, 2001), via CDPSP (April 11,

52. Interfax (March 13, 2001), via WNC.

53. Interfax (March 14, 2001), via WNC.

54. Rossiiskaia gazeta (March 17, 2001), via WNC.

55. ITAR-TASS (March 26, 2001), via WNC.

56. It must be stressed, though, that Russia expressed
readiness to back
a slightly larger share for Iran. A Russian official
said in March 2001, “By
drawing a few more zigzags on the map, we could
possibly squeeze one to
two percent more for Iran.” See Iran News (March 4,
2001), via WNC.

57. Financial Times (June 12, 2001), via Lexis-Nexis.

58. Turan (July 23, 2001), via WNC; Financial Times
(July 24, 2001),
via Lexis-Nexis.

59. Kommersant (July 30, 2001), via CDPSP (August 29,
Turkmenistan de facto supported Iran’s military moves
on July 23, 2001. A
few days later, Turkmenistan sent a protest note to
Azerbaijan, suggesting
that Azerbaijan would face unpleasant consequences if
it continued to develop
the Azeri/Osman and Chirag/Khazar oilfields. See Turan
(July 27,
2001), via WNC.

60. Nezavisimaia gazeta (August 18, 2001), via CDPSP
19, 2001).

61. Ibid.

62. Vremia MN (August 22, 2001), via CDPSP (September
19, 2001).

63. Kommersant (August 29, 2001), via CDPSP (September
26, 2001).
In response, Iran criticized actions taken by Turkey
and the United States.
It termed the air show by the Turkish warplanes “a
provocation.” It denounced
Jones’s statement as an attempt to interfere in the
Caspian states’
affairs. See Turan (August 20, 2001), via WNC. In his
speech to the U.S.-
Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce in March 2002, Deputy
Secretary of
State Richard Armitage noted, “We will not stand idly
by and watch them
[Iranians] pressure their neighbors [Azerbaijanis].”
See Michael Lelyveld,
“U.S. Rejects Military Involvement in Caspian
Dispute,” Eurasianet (March
17, 2002), available at


64. Interfax (August 3, 2001), via WNC.

65. Interfax (August 31, 2001), via WNC.

66. Zerkalo (November 30, 2001), via WNC.

67. Interfax (January 21, 2002), via WNC.

68. Turan (March 25, 2002), via WNC.

69. Turan (April 24, 2002), via WNC.

70. Obshchaia gazeta (April 25-May 1, 2002), via CDPSP
(May 22,

71. Financial Times (April 24, 2002), via Lexis-Nexis.

72. Turan (April 26, 2002), via WNC.

73. Novye izvestiia (April 27, 2002), via CDPSP (May
22, 2002). Russia
noted on numerous occasions before April 2002 that the
Caspian dispute
could be resolved on a bilateral basis. For example,
after his talks with
Azerbaijan’s president Heidar Aliev, Putin stated that
if a multilateral Caspian
deal is not viable, “We should seek a bilateral
accord.” See Interfax (January
9, 2001), via WNC.

74. Interfax (April 26, 2002), via WNC.

75. Interfax (May 4, 2002), via WNC.

76. Izvestia (May 15, 2002), via WNC. To be more
specific, the
Kurmangazy oilfield will be under Kazakhstan’s
jurisdiction, but developed
jointly with Russian companies. The Khvalynskoe and
fields will be under Russia’s jurisdiction, but
developed with Kazakhstani
companies. See Interfax (May 6, 2002), via WNC.

77. Interfax (May 16, 2002), via WNC.

78. ITAR-TASS (September 24, 2002), via WNC. A few
days later, the
U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan issued a statement that
said Washington supported
the Russian-Azerbaijani agreement. See Interfax
(October 3, 2002),
via WNC.

79. Turan (February 28, 2003), via WNC.

80. Zerkalo (May 22, 2002), via WNC. Three months
later, at a meeting
of the special working group of the five Caspian
states, Azerbaijan put
forward the same proposal to Iran. Baku said that it
would be better to
develop the resources jointly than to mothball them
indefinitely. In response,
Iran noted that it would accept any proposal that
would give Tehran at least
20 percent of the Caspian Sea. See Nezavisimaia gazeta
(August 1, 2002),
via CDPSP (August 28, 2002).

81. Interfax (June 14, 2002); Zerkalo (July 13, 2002);
Interfax (September
10, 2002); and Interfax (January 15, 2003), all via

82. Interfax (March 27, 2003), via WNC.

83. Zerkalo (April 2, 2003), via WNC.

84. IRNA (Tehran) (July 20, 2003), via WNC.

85. Interfax (May 14, 2003), via WNC.

86. Interfax (July 28, 2003), via WNC.

87. IRNA (Tehran) (November 8, 2003), via WNC.

88. Iranian Labor News Agency (December 9, 2003), via

89. IRNA (Tehran) (August 31, 2004), via WNC.

90. Vremia novostei (February 11, 2005), via WNC.

91. ITAR-TASS (April 30, 2004), via WNC.

92. 525 Gazet (January 26, 2005), via WNC.

93. Vremia novostei (February 3, 2005), via WNC.

94. ITAR-TASS (January 30, 2005), via WNC.

95. Vremia novostei (February 11, 2005), via WNC.

96. Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (February 8,
2005), via WNC.

97. The Russian parliament ratified the country’s
agreements with
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in March 2003 and in June
2003, respectively.
See Interfax (March 19, 2003); Interfax (April 7,
2003); and Interfax (June
25, 2003), all via WNC.

98. ITAR-TASS (July 18, 2003), via WNC.

99. ITAR-TASS (August 21, 2002), via WNC.

100. IRNA (Tehran) (March 17, 2004), via WNC.

101. Iran News (April 8, 2003), via WNC.

102. IRNA (Tehran) (January 31, 2005), via WNC.

[YUSIN LEE is a research professor at the Institute of East-West
Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.]