Iran and Russia on Tuesday denied that Moscow had blocked the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, after the U.S. and its European allies accused Moscow of leveraging the talks in Vienna in response to Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.
“Russia will be no obstacle to reaching an agreement and there will be no connection between the developments in Ukraine and the Vienna talks,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
More than 10 months of talks in Vienna have brought Iran, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the U.S., that took part indirectly, close to renewing the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which Washington withdrew in 2018 and reimposed and reinforced tough sanctions on Tehran.
But the negotiations were halted on Friday after Russia, on March 5, demanded guarantees that Western sanctions imposed following its “special military operation” in Ukraine would not damage its relations with Iran.
Amir-Abdollahian said Russia would support reaching a deal on the JCPOA revival and that Moscow had so far backed talks in Vienna.
“Russia will continue to play a positive and constructive role in reaching a good, strong and lasting agreement, as it did from the beginning of the talks,” he said.
The top diplomat noted that a “final deal’ would be possible if Iran and the U.S. resolve remaining issues, which include “the main red lines” of the Islamic Republic.
He urged the U.S. to adopt a “realistic” approach as it would be “decisive” in the last days before a possible deal.
“We hope that the American side will stop its last-minute excessive demands so that we can announce a good and lasting agreement in the near future with the support of all parties to the negotiations.”
Amir-Abdollahian stressed that “no factor” can prevent a deal in Vienna and “have a negative effect on reaching the end point”.
He added that “no external factor” can hinder cooperation between Iran and Russia.
Written assurances obtained
Lavrov said U.S. suggestions that Russia was blocking efforts to revive the JCPOA were untrue.
Lavrov said Russia had received written assurances from Washington that sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine would not hinder cooperation within the framework of the deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, Reuters reported.
“We received written guarantees. They are included in the text of the agreement itself on the resumption of the JCPOA on the Iranian nuclear program,” Lavrov said.
He added that the guarantees Moscow had received from Washington would protect Russian involvement in Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, AFP reported.
Lavrov said Moscow and Tehran share the position that Western sanctions were imposed with the aim of overriding international law and accused Washington and its partners of directing the penalties “primarily against ordinary citizens”.
He said that agreement on the JCPOA revival was in the finishing straight.
A senior U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday that the United States would continue to engage with Russia on a return to the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.
Washington would not sanction Russian participation in nuclear projects that are part of the deal when it is fully implemented, the official said on condition of anonymity.