Tehran, Iran – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow has received written guarantees from Washington that Western sanctions on Russia over Ukraine will not affect cooperation with Iran within the framework of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Lavrov’s remarks on Tuesday – delivered as he hosted his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, for talks in the Russian capital – could potentially signal that Russia’s demand that the sanctions would not impede its future dealings with Iran has been fulfilled.
Moscow made the demand last week amid reports of an imminent agreement after more than 11 months of negotiations aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is formally known. The United States called Russia’s last-minute demand “irrelevant”, while the so-called E3 countries – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – had warned it could lead to the collapse of the talks.
In a joint news conference, Lavrov and Amirabdollahian rejected claims that Russia’s demand was presenting an “obstacle” to negotiations in the Austrian capital and backed a quick return to the deal that the US unilaterally abandoned in 2018.
“We received written guarantees. They are included in the text of the agreement itself on the resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme,” Lavrov said.
For his part, Amirabdollahian said “there will be no connection between developments in Ukraine and the Vienna talks”.
He added: “If we reach an agreement with the US on remaining issues which relate to some of Iran’s main red lines, based on my talks with Mr Lavrov today Russia will remain beside the Islamic Republic of Iran until reaching a good and sustainable agreement, continuing to play the constructive role it has played since the start.”
Amirabdollahian also stressed Iran was now a “strong and independent” party in the talks and would not allow pressure to prevent its cooperation with any country. He also called on the US to abandon its “excessive demands” so an agreement could be reached as soon as possible.
Other items on the agenda
Amirabdollahian and Lavrov also discussed a host of issues, including Ukraine and regional affairs such as developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.
The Russian foreign minister thanked Iran for its “objective” approach to the war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, and its rejection of sanctions rolled out by Western countries.
His Iranian counterpart, who was bearing a message from Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urging an end to fighting, reiterated Iran’s stance that the roots of the crisis could be traced to NATO’s expansion, and that Iran opposed the war and called for a political solution.
Expanding bilateral relations was also on the agenda. To this end, Amirabdollahian invited Lavrov to visit Tehran in the foreseeable future, which the latter accepted.
Lavrov hailed increasing Iran-Russia trade, which he said has exceeded $4bn annually for the first time despite the coronavirus pandemic, and said a new bilateral cooperation agreement that Tehran has proposed would soon be signed.
Amirabdollahian’s trip followed a visit to the Kremlin by President Ebrahim Raisi in January.