An agreement to development two major oil fields in Iran was signed by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Tehran Dec. 13, AFP reported, citing the Shana news agency. The latest deal, which paves the way for Gazprom-sponsored studies at the Cheshmekosh and Changouleh fields near the Iraqi border, takes place amid the visit of a major Russian business delegation to Iran. Overcoming previous diplomatic friction, Tehran and Moscow have become allied in their support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in the country's ongoing civil war. While hardliners oppose outside involvement, Iran's dilapidated energy infrastructure desperately requires foreign investment, technology and expertise to ensure its future viability. Despite foreign interest, however, existing U.S. sanctions against Iran could make financing difficult for future energy projects.