Iran's foreign minister has voiced optimism over a nuclear deal after Russia backed off from a demand to be exempted from Ukraine sanctions in trade with Iran.
“If the American side is realistic, we will finalize a good, strong, and lasting agreement with the support of all negotiating parties in Vienna,” Amir-Abdollahian said in a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Tuesday evening.
Referring to his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow earlier on Tuesday, Amir-Abdollahian said Russia, one of the five countries currently negotiating the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, plays a constructive role in the talks and "remains onboard for the final agreement in Vienna.”.
Lavrov said Tuesday Russia has "written guarantees" it can carry out its work as a party to the Iran nuclear deal. "We have received written guarantees – they are included in the very text of the agreement on reviving the JCPOA, and in these texts there is a reliable defense of all the projects provided for by the JCPOA and those activities – including the linking up of our companies and specialists," Lavrov said.
The "written guarantees" have apparently been provided in the text of the final agreement being negotiated.
The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Tuesday. "The text of the upcoming agreement has been amended with the necessary additions to ensure reliable protection of all projects and areas of activity envisaged by the JCPOA - including those with the direct involvement of our specialists, as well as, for example, Russian-Iranian cooperation on the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant - from the harmful effects of anti-Russian restrictions [imposed by] the United States and the European Union," Zakharova said in a statement Tuesday quoted by the state-owned Ria Novosti.
Iran's state media on Wednesday welcomed the new developments with optimistic frontpage headlines including the Tehran Municipality-owned Hamshahri newspaper's "Moscow Rock No Longer Barring Vienna [deal]" and state-owned Khorasan's "Russian Knot in Vienna [Talks] Undone" while Iran newspaper, the mouthpiece of the government, evasively chose the headline "Iran, Russia Agree to Neutralize Sanctions".
The US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday that Washington will not sanction Russian participation in nuclear projects in Iran under a revived JCPOA, but underlined that it would also not allow Russia to use the deal as an "escape hatch" to evade Ukraine-related sanctions.
Limiting the guarantees Moscow was seeking from the US to JCPOA-related cooperation with Iran appears to be a big step back from the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's demand who according to Tass news agency said on March 5 that Russia had asked for guarantees that US sanctions would not affect Russia's "right to free and full-fledged trading, economic, investment, military and technical cooperation."
In an interview with Iran's reformist Etemad newspaper on Monday before Amir-Abdollahian's visit to Moscow published Wednesday, the Russian ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan emphasized that Russia wanted exemption from such sanctions in all areas, not only in relation to the JCPOA.
"We need assurance that Russia's national interests are met, including in the framework of bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in various areas, not only in the framework of the JCPOA," Dzhagaryan told Etemad. He said Russia does not want the sanctions imposed on her to be "a serious impediment to continuation of cooperation with a friendly country" and was awaiting "written guarantees".