EghtesadOnline: Russia’s top diplomat dismissed claims that Moscow was blocking efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“The Americans try every day to accuse us of putting a brake on an agreement. This is a lie,” he said following talks with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow on Tuesday, IRNA reported.
He added that the draft agreement has not been approved by some capitals yet, and Moscow is not among them.
Negotiations have been underway in the Austrian capital Vienna to restore the JCPOA, from which the United States pulled out in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions, prompting Iran to react by rolling back on its commitments.
After 11 months, the talks were halted once again on Friday at the request of the European Union coordinator of the JCPOA, Josep Borrell, who said the pause was needed due to “external factors”.
The factor is thought to be Russia’s demand for immunity against western sanctions imposed over its conflict in Ukraine, although Russia’s top negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov has stressed that the conclusion of Vienna Talks does not depend on Russia only.
“A number of other participants raised questions which need to be addressed to finalize the deal on restoration of #JCPOA,” he said.
Lavrov said Russia has received written assurances from Washington that Ukraine-related sanctions would not hinder cooperation within the framework of the JCPOA.
He said the assurance will be included in the text of an agreement on JCPOA revival.
“A strong guarantee regarding all projects, activities, companies and experts within the JCPOA framework has been stated, including cooperation on the original project of Bushehr [nuclear] power plant,” he said.
Amir-Abdollahian also said Russia would not block reaching an agreement and there is no relations between developments in Ukraine and Vienna negotiations.
“Once we come to an agreement with the American side over some outstanding issues, which are among Iran’s red lines, and a final deal is struck in Vienna, based on today’s talks, Russia will continue to play a positive and constructive role as in the beginning of negotiations and will support Iran in achieving a good, strong and stable agreement until the end,” he said.
He hoped that the US would stop making maximalist demands on the final minutes to reaching a deal.
The remarks came as Western countries insist that they would not entertain the Russian demand, saying it is not related to the JCPOA.
“We have been very clear that the new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its implementation,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a press briefing on Monday.
The three European parties had also said in a statement that “nobody should seek to exploit JCPOA negotiations to obtain assurances that are separate to the JCPOA.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed on Tuesday that the sanctions against Russia directly affect the interests of the country in the context of the nuclear deal.
“So the sanctions must be taken into account. This is a new aspect that cannot be ignored, that must be taken into account,” he told reporters.
He said this was a topic for the continuation of talks, adding “it is really something that is very important for us.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday that the Russian request must by discussed in the JCPOA Joint Commission, like any other “right or wrong” demand made earlier by some parties, which have been either rejected or adjusted.
During the Tuesday meeting, Amir-Abdollahian appreciated Russian diplomats’ constructive efforts in Vienna to help reach a deal that would culminate in the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.
He also stressed that expanding relations with neighboring Russia is of great importance to the Islamic Republic, regardless of any international development.
Lavrov said the future of Tehran-Moscow ties is bright, especially given that negotiations on JCPOA revival were in the finishing straight.
“I am convinced that perspectives are even more impressive considering that the agreement on reviving the JCPOA is on the home straight,” Lavrov said.
The two diplomats also discussed a range of other topics, including agreements previously signed between the two countries’ presidents and developments in Ukraine and at other regional and international levels.