Nuclear Energy

Expect Russian spoiler in Iran nuke talks: Critic

Putin's role in Iran's nuclear ambitions
Putin's role in Iran's nuclear ambitions

As international negotiations continue over Iran's controversial nuclear program, Russia will likely try to spoil the deal, Hermitage Capital CEO Bill Browder, a critic of the Russian government, told CNBC on Monday.

Officials from global powers, called the P5+1, and Iran are in talks to lift some or all economic sanctions in return for the country abandoning its nuclear ambitions. Negotiations are expected to resume on Wednesday, with the deadline for reaching an agreement set for March 31.

If that agreement goes through, Iran could wind up selling its oil freely on the international market, which is already facing oversupply, Browder said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

Since Russia, an oil producer, is already suffering from low crude prices, President Vladimir Putin has no financial interest in letting the deal happen, he added.

"He also likes to be the international spoiler on anything going on. He likes to be poking everybody between the eyes on these types of things," said Browder, who is also the author of "Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man's Fight for Justice."

"It's in Putin's economic interest and in his interest in being important to mess this thing up if he can."

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Oil prices have slumped about 60 percent since June. Weak global demand, booming U.S. shale production and OPEC's refusal to cut its output are thought to be the main reasons for the price drop.

Browder doesn't know exactly how Putin will try to spoil the negotiations, but he said history is a guide.

"The way he intervenes in these situations is he'll come around the backdoor with some type of offer to Iran to say listen if you go along with this deal, we're not going to do this with you."

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