Lavrov: Moscow expects JCPOA to be saved
Iran and Russia formed a united front against the United States and Europe Tuesday on the eve of talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran and the remaining parties to the deal have been discussing how to lift US sanctions on the Islamic Republic that then president Donald Trump reimposed when he quit the deal in 2018. All side have described last week talks as constructive.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking at a joint press conference in Tehran with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, warned the US that it would gain no extra leverage in Vienna through "acts of sabotage" and sanctions, AFP wrote.
Zarif also blasted Israel, which Iran has blamed for being behind a Sunday sabotage attack on its Natanz uranium enrichment facility, for having made a "very bad gamble".
"We have no problem with returning to implementing our JCPOA commitments," Zarif said using the formal name for the nuclear deal.
"But the Americans should know that neither sanctions nor acts of sabotage will give them negotiation tools and these acts will only make the situation more difficult for them."
Iran on Monday said that Israel had sabotaged the Natanz enrichment plant and vowed it would take "revenge".
Tel Aviv did not claim responsibility for the sabotage, but unsourced media reports attributed it to the Israeli spy services carrying out a "cyber operation".
The New York Times, quoting unnamed US and Israeli intelligence officials, also said there had been "an Israeli role" in the attack in which an explosion had hit the power system that fed the plant's centrifuges.
The White House said Monday that the US "was not involved in any manner".
'Very bad gamble'
"If they (Israel) thought that they can stop Iran from following up on lifting sanctions from the Iranian people, then they made a very bad gamble,” Zarif warned.
"What they did in Natanz, they thought it would reduce Iran's leverage" in the talks in Vienna.
"On the contrary, it will strengthen our position."
"What happened in Natanz makes it possible for Iran to legally do whatever it takes to ... compensate for this terrorist stupidity," said Zarif, Reuters wrote.
"I assure you that in near future, the Natanz site will move forward with more advanced centrifuges."
Zarif said Iran would make the enrichment plant "more powerful" by using advanced centrifuges.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday that the centrifuges hit by the power blackout were first-generation ones, not advanced models.
The Natanz episode came days after the Vienna talks opened.
Lavrov said Russia expected the nuclear deal to be saved.
"We are counting on the fact that we will be able to save the agreement and that Washington will finally return to full and complete implementation of the corresponding UN resolution," he said.
Lavrov also blasted the European Union for slapping sanctions on eight Iranian security officials, saying that the blacklisting threatens current efforts to restore the deal.
"There is no coordination at the EU. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," he said.
He stressed that "if this decision was taken voluntarily in the midst of negotiations in Vienna to save (the deal), then it is no longer unfortunate, it is a mistake worse than a crime".
In response to EU sanctions, Iran said Monday it is suspending cooperation with Europe on various fields including "terrorism, drug [trafficking] and refugees".
US President Joe Biden has indicated he wants to revive the agreement.
Iran demands that the United States lift all sanctions at once in exchange for its return to full compliance with commitments it has suspended, while Washington demands that Tehran return to its obligations before the sanctions are lifted.