Russia’s envoy in Tehran Wednesday tried to smooth out negative reactions to Moscow’s demands tying Western sanctions over Ukraine to the Iran nuclear talks.
"We want the JCPOA to be settled but our own interests are important to us. These will benefit Iran too," Levan Dzhagaryan (Jagaryan) said Wednesday in response to a question about allegations that after its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has taken the 2015 deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) hostage to its own interests.
"We need guarantees these sanctions [imposed by Washington on Moscow] will in no way affect the trading, economic and investment relations contained in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian nuclear program," Lavrov said Sunday according to Tass.
The Russian ambassador made the remarks at a press conference with selected Iranian media outlets for clarification of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's controversial remarks earlier this week.
Russia is widely expected to play a central role in implementing a restored JCPOA, especially in removing stocks of enriched uranium in excess of JCPOA limits, a task it undertook when the agreement was reached in 2015.
Lavrov’s remarks Saturday sparked accusations in Iran of Russian ‘blackmail,’ reflecting a growing hostility to Russia in both the media and social-media platforms seen last month in objections to the Russian ambassador honoring Alexandr Griboyedov, a Russian diplomat and writer murdered by a Tehran mob in 1829.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov speaking on March 5, 2022
Dzhagaryan told the press conference Wednesday that as an ambassador he was not privy to every piece of information but warned against attempts to divide Moscow and Tehran.
" I can't offer any details as only top officials in Tehran and negotiators in Vienna are aware of them,” he said. “Our interests are important to us but our interests are not to the detriment of others. Don't you think the western [powers] want a division between us? Be aware that our officials, Mr Lavrov and Mr [Hossein] Amir-Abdollahian [Iran’s foreign minister] are in continued contact.”
The Iranian foreign ministry’s spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday that Tehran was waiting for “details” having “seen and heard” Lavrov’s comments in the media. The Russian foreign ministry on Monday reported a phone call between Lavrov and Amir-Abdollahian noting agreement that "all participants" in the JCPOA should have "equal rights in relation to the unhindered development of cooperation in all areas without any discrimination.”
The 2015 deal was signed by Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (5+1), limiting the Iranian nuclear program, and lifting a raft of United Nations, European Union and US sanctions. The US left the deal in 2018 and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions designed to end Iranian oil exports and break any links between Iran and the international financial sector.
The remaining signatories – China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom – have all argued the US should lift sanctions incompatible with the JCPOA while Tehran should return its nuclear program, expanded since 2019, to JCPOA limits. While promising to revive the JCPOA, President Joe Biden has kept that sanctions in place during the talks.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed Tuesday that Moscow and Washington – regardless of the Ukraine crisis - shared an interest in reviving the JCPOA. But Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday that Russia was “trying to up the ante and broaden its demands with regard to the JCPOA.” She insisted: “We are not playing 'Let's Make a Deal.’”