Illuminates Russian motives and approaches to dealing with a newly resurgent and potentially nuclear Iran


Persian Dreams

Moscow and Tehran Since the Fall of the Shah

438 pages; 6" x 9"


Moscow’s ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran underwent dramatic fluctuations following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s triumphant return to Tehran in 1979. After a prolonged implosion, they fitfully expanded, shaped not only by the rush of current events but by centuries of ingrained practices and prejudices. By summer 2006, as Iran forged ahead with its nuclear program and Shia-based forces flexed their muscles across the Middle East, Russian-Iranian relations again appeared to be on the threshold of an entirely new dynamic.

Drawing on firsthand interviews as well as primary and secondary sources, John Parker delineates Moscow’s motives and approaches to dealing with the resurgent Tehran, weaving into the public record the recollections and analyses of Russian politicians, diplomats, and experts who dealt directly with Iran both under the Pahlavi monarchy and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Parker also emphasizes other touchstones of relations between the two countries, including their complex dealings in 1992 immediately after the Soviet Union’s collapse and when they backed opposing sides in the civil war in Tajikistan yet nourished mutual interests on other issues. The depth of his analysis sheds light on the more recent repercussions of the September 11 terrorist attacks for Afghanistan and Iraq, for the Middle East as a whole, and for Iran’s accelerating nuclear program.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

John W. Parker is the chief of the Division for Caucasus and Central Asia in the Office for Russian and Eurasian Analysis at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research within the U.S. Department of State. During the final years of the Soviet Union, he served in the American Embassy in Moscow as the chief of the political/internal section (1989–91). In the 1980s he was an analyst of Soviet foreign policy in the Office for Soviet and East European Analysis at the U.S. Department of State. He has also been a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the Brookings Institution. Parker is the author of Kremlin in Transition, two volumes. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.


“This is an admirably detailed and analytical account from a serving official with a strong Russian pedigree.”
International Affairs, 2011

“This book has received strong endorsements from a variety of people, quite a few of whom have played leading roles in the formulation of the United States’ foreign policy in recent years. Their praises are justifiable.”
Europe-Asia Studies, Volume 62, Issue 8

“John Parker presents a very timely, in-depth, and insightful book on [Iran’s] relations with Russia since the Islamic Revolution. Parker exquisitely incorporates information from interviews and other primary sources with the overall history. He has made a fascinating and valuable contribution to the literature and to current affairs.”
Air Force Research Institute, July 23, 2010

"[Persian Dreams] makes a contribution in drawing heavily on Russian political figures' published memoirs . . . and on personal interviews. . . . The author provides detailed insiders' accounts of events and their insights."
Political Science Quarterly, Winter 2009-10

"This book sets many a record straight, shaping up as a respectable reference."
Journal of Peace Research, November 2009

"An in-depth, scholarly view of Persian-Russian relations. . . . The author's deep understanding of the culture of both countries, as well as his long-term acquaintance, often personal, with the great power players, permits him to explain the motivations behind political decisions that sometimes seem unjustified by purely objective factors. The book's value is precisely that it credibly explains shifts in political as well as religious factors. . . . Recommended."
Choice, July 2009

"Parker has done extraordinarily meticulous research."
Middle East Quarterly, September 2009

“A major contribution to our understanding of the contemporary relationship between Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran”
Foreign Policy in Focus, May 27, 2009

“How utterly timely to have a book that details the Iranian-Russian relationship in all its complexity."
Foreign Affairs, May/June 2009

“Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the extraordinary complexity of the Russian-Iranian relationship."
Middle East Journal, Spring 2009

"This excellent new book, Persian Dreams, offers an exhaustive detailing of the Iran-Russia will certainly be the definitive history of the subject until the Iranian side becomes more accessible."
Asia Times Online

“At last, an answer to both camps in Washington: those who claim that the Russians are against us on Iran, and those who claim they are for us. Parker’s sophisticated analysis shows that Russian policy toward Iran has its own internal dynamic, with a rich and complex history. U.S. policymakers must make of it what they can.”
Rose Gottemoeller, Director, Carnegie Moscow Center

"Even——perhaps especially——with relations between Moscow and Washington at their lowest point since the Cold War, American policymakers, journalists, businessmen, specialists on nuclear proliferation, and many others want to know what Russia is up to in Iran. This question usually gets posed in an oversimplified form. In John Parker's careful hands, it gets the best-informed, most sophisticated, most thoughtful answer we are likely to have."
Stephen Sestanovich, Columbia University/Council on Foreign Relations; U.S. ambassador-at-large for the former Soviet Union, 1997-2001

“This is an outstanding piece of scholarship, anchored in close analysis of the documentary sources and revealing interviews with former Russian officials. Anyone with a serious interest in contemporary Russian or Iranian foreign relations should read it.”
Bruce Parrott, professor & director of Russian & Eurasian studies, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

"With meticulous scholarship, John Parker has written a fascinating account of a relationship important not only for the two countries involved (Russia and Iran) but for all those relying on oil and concerned about the Islamic Republic's foreign adventurism. The detailed research into Russian sources will make Persian Dreams particularly important to those interested in the Middle East who wish to understand how Moscow views Iran."
Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

"The best study we have of a complex, subtle, multifaceted and important relationship. Parker's work is authoritative, judicious and timely."
Shahram Chubin, Director of Studies, Geneva Centre for Security Policy

"Every person seriously concerned over Iran’s nuclear aspirations and role in Middle East politics should read and ponder John Parker’s masterly, thoroughly documented Persian Dreams. Its lucid account of Russian-Iranian interaction since the fall of the Shah provides essential information for those who would make or assess American policy toward both Russia and Iran."
Jack F. Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1987-1991; author of Autopsy on an Empire and Reagan and Gorbachev

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