Iran has denied a report about an alleged secret offer to help Russia evade Western sanctions in exchange for support in achieving a nuclear deal with the West.
Dismissing a March 23 report by the UK newspaper The Telegraph, an informed source with Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday, “The claim by the Daily Telegraph that Iran and Russia have reached a secret agreement on the JCPOA and [Western] sanctions [on Russia] is merely an instance of news fabrication”.
The source, quoted by Iran's government-controlled media, added that such reports are made by Western security circles as part of their psychological warfare. It is worth noting that Iran's belated denial is not official.
On March 23, The Telegraph cited security sources about Iran’s secret offer to help Russia evade the impact of Western sanctions in return for getting “Moscow’s backing for a new nuclear deal”.
Diplomatic efforts in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), broke up earlier this month after Russia demanded guarantees that any future business it conducts with Iran be exempt from Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.
It seems the Biden Administration has agreed with a Russian demand, which besides facilitating the restoration of the JCPOA, would involve lucrative deals for Moscow to expand Tehran’s civilian nuclear program. This would include the expansion of the Bushehr power plant with two additional nuclear reactors.
Russia announced on March 15, ten days after demanding the exemption that the Biden administration had agreed to waive Ukraine sanctions, noting that “Additions were made to the text of the future agreement on JCPOA restoration to ensure that all the JCPOA-related projects, especially with Russian participation, as well as Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, are protected from negative impact of anti-Russian restrictions by US and EU”.
Still expressing optimism over the Vienna nuclear talks on Thursday, the Iranian foreign minister reiterated that Tehran would not surrender its "redlines", understood as the demand to remove the Revolutionary Guard from the US list of terrorist organizations.
Iran is believed to have already established a clandestine banking and finance system to handle tens of billions of dollars in annual trade banned under US-led sanctions while there are also reports that Tehran and Moscow are in talks over the possible recognition of the Russian payment system MIR.
The Telegraph article claimed security officials believe Iran has offered to use its sanctions-evading structure to help Russia sell its oil on international markets once the nuclear deal is signed, and sanctions have been lifted against Tehran.
“Russia is actively looking for ways to evade sanctions, and Iran has offered to help,” said a senior Western security official. “In return, Iran wants Russia to make sure the new nuclear deal is agreed so that sanctions are lifted against Tehran.”