Effort to Revive Iran Nuclear Deal Entering Homestretch, Russia's Lavrov Says
Talks on reviving the landmark nuclear agreement - which promises an end to Western sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme, began last spring after the Biden administration reversed Trump's hardline anti-Iranian stance.
Work to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal has entered the homestretch, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
"I am confident that the prospects are even more impressive, considering, among things, that we have entered the homestretch on an agreement to resume the Comprehensive Plan of Action to resolve the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme," Lavrov said, speaking alongside his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow on Tuesday.
The Russian foreign minister indicated that the two countries were "preparing new documents designed to formalise" a new level of cooperation.
Already, Lavrov said, notwithstanding "well-known factors" aimed at pressuring the two countries, "our trade turnover is steadily growing at a record pace. Last year it increased by nearly 80 percent, exceeding $4 billion."
Lavrov also expressed gratitude to Tehran for its "objective position" on the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
"We will discuss further coordination of our actions on the Syrian settlement within the Astana format, other crisis points in the Middle East and North Africa, and also talk about the Afghan settlement, which requires our full attention. I also want to note that we appreciate our confidential dialogue and your objective position on what is happening in Ukraine," Lavrov said.
The Russian foreign minister emphasised that cooperation on international affairs has always been a keystone of ties between Moscow and Tehran.
Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said that his discussions with Lavrov would include talks on pursuing the agreements reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during Raisi's visit to Moscow in January, as well as the situation in Ukraine and the new situation in regional and international affairs.
Amir-Abdollahian said Iran could not remain indifferent to events in Ukraine, and noted that Tehran stands for an end to all conflicts worldwide - whether in Ukraine, Afghanistan or Yemen. He added that the Islamic Republic also condemns the policy of unilateral sanctions. The diplomat also stressed that there was no connection between events in Ukraine and the revival of the JCPOA.
Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran expressed willingness late last month to "immediately conclude a good deal" with the remaining Western parties to the JCPOA and the US if the latter were prepared to "show real will." Negotiations were put on pause last week over the US seizure of a pair of Greek tankers loaded with $38 million of Iranian oil. The negotiations were also reportedly hindered by Russia's demand for US written guarantees that its sanctions against Moscow won't affect trade with Iran.
Israel's political class has expressed concerns about the possible revival of the JCPOA, with senior officials including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warning repeatedly that Tel Aviv wouldn't be bound by the agreement's terms. In the US, Senate Republicans wrote President Biden a letter on Monday stating emphatically that they would not support the agreement's restoration, accusing his administration of having "given away the store" to Tehran.
The JCPOA was negotiated by Iran, the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and the European Union in 2015, and promised the removal of Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for commitments to limit the uranium enrichment and stockpiling activities of its peaceful nuclear programme. The Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 after heavy Israeli lobbying. The Biden White House moved to restart negotiations with Iran and other remaining parties of the JCPOA last year, with the two sides spending months deadlocked over which party should make the good faith steps on restoring the agreement. Tehran has also stressed repeatedly that it would not allow the original terms of the nuclear deal to be weighed down by side issues such as Iran's ballistic missile programme or its regional foreign policy.
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