Russian chief negotiator in Iran nuclear talks, Mikhail Ulyanov

Russian Demands In Iran Talks Go Farther Than Role In Nuclear Deal - Diplomat

Sunday, 03/06/2022

A European diplomat has said Russia’s demand of US guarantees over Ukraine sanctions not impeding its dealings with Iran go farther than Tehran’s nuclear issue.

"[Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov's demands are way above nuclear cooperation [allowed by the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran]," the diplomat who spoke to Iran International in Vienna on condition of anonymity said.

Lavrov said Saturday that international sanctions against Russia had created "problems from the point of view of Russia's interests" regarding the restoration of the 2015 deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and that sanctions on Russia could complicate Moscow's involvement in Tehran's civilian nuclear program as well as arms sales to Iran.

The diplomat said that Russia's envoy in the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, had first raised the issue of Ukraine sanction only in relation to Moscow's role in a possible nuclear deal with Tehran, but Lavrov's remarks went much farther, demading a wider exemptions in dealings with Iran.

Lavrov said that Russia and China would be able to help Iran develop its civilian nuclear program in line with non-proliferation rules and should be free to do so without the threat of recent sanctions imposed for Russia’s attack on Ukraine. But he demanded written guarantees from the US, at the minimum level of Secretary of State, that the Ukraine-related sanctions by the US would not in any way harm Russia's "right to free, fully-fledged trade and economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with Iran".

"The new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its potential implementation," a State Department spokesperson said Saturday adding that Washington continues to engage with Russia on a return to full implementation of the JCPOA. "Russia shares a common interest in ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. "

Iranian officials have not shown any reaction to Lavrov's remarks but somemedia in Tehran and many Iranian social media users interpreted Lavrov's remarks Saturday as "blackmail" and "taking the JCPOA hostage" to secure Russia's own interests.

The diplomat added that Lavrov's remarks Saturday would pose an important political obstacle to Vienna talks if what Moscow wants is lifting some of the sanctions imposed on it for its invasion of Ukraine.

It is widely assumed Russia would play a central role in implementing a revived JCPOA, including shipping out enriched uranium currently held by Iran exceeding JCPOA limits. On Saturday the Russian envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said he had met with Enrique Mora, the EU Coordinator at the Vienna talks, and raised several questions that have to be addressed at this stage 'to ensure smooth civil nuclear cooperation with Iran".

The European diplomat also told Iran International that besides Lavrov's new demand, the two issues that Iran has been insisting on – economic guarantees from the US to ensure sanctions are lifted and delisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization – have remained unresolved so far.

Two diplomats, one of them not directly involved in the talks, told Reuters on Saturday that China has also demanded written guarantees that its companies doing business in Iran would not be affected by US sanctions.

Talks in Vienna between Iran and world powers, including Russia, to restore the JCPOA have now reached a critical stage with most sides saying an agreement could be reached within days.

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