The G7 foreign ministers meeting in Germany concluded its busy two-day agenda Friday with a 3,500-word statement including a 500-word section on Iran.

Stressing the importance of universal human rights, the bloc called on Iran to honor international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the General Assembly resolution adopted in 1966 and in force since 1976.

The wide-ranging G7 statement expressed support for efforts at the United Nations to hold both Iran and Russia accountable for “blatant violations” of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The US, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – G7 members along with Canada, Italy and Japan – have argued that any Iranian supply of military drones to Russia would breach the agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

As the G7 statement held Iran responsible for not making the “necessary decisions” needed in international talks to restore the JCPOA, the American network CNN Friday cited “US intelligence officials” claiming Tehran had sought Russian help in acquiring “additional nuclear materials and with nuclear fuel fabrication” should JCPOA talks fail.

Russia has consistently expressed support for the JCPOA, and alongside China and three western European signatories criticized the US over its 2018 withdrawal, prompting Iran by 2019 to begin expanding the program. CNN gave no details of the assistance Iran had reportedly sought, nor why it needed Russian help given it is already enriching uranium to 60 percent and has stockpiled uranium well in excess of JCPOA limits.

Germany's Annalena Baerbock, Britain's James Cleverly, Italy's Antonio Tajani, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna attend a working session during the meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers, at the City Hall in Muenster, Germany November 4, 2022

While not confirming the CNN story, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told the network the US was “working with partners to expose the growing ties between Iran and Russia – and hold them accountable.” She said that while “the JCPOA is not on the agenda… we will be firm in countering any cooperation that would be counter to our non-proliferation goals.”

‘Unabated expansion’

While the G7 statement expressed concern at the “unabated expansion of Iran’s nuclear program, it made no specific reference to the JCPOA while calling on Iran to “fulfill its legal obligations and political commitments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation without further delay.”

The statement pledged to continue work between the G7 and “other international partners…to address Iran’s nuclear escalation and insufficient cooperation with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] regarding its [Nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards agreement.” One of the issues holding up progress in JCPOA talks has reportedly been Iran’s demand that the IAEA drop a probe into unexplained uranium traces found in sites related to Iran’s nuclear work before 2003.

The G7 statement also condemned Iran “destabilizing activities in and around the Middle East,” including “transfers of…advanced weaponry to state and non-state actors,” apparently a reference to Iran’s links with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah in Lebanon, armed Palestinian groups, and Ansar Allah in Yemen.

The statement deplored “the Iranian government’s erosion of civil space, and independent journalism, its targeting of human rights defenders, including by shutting down the internet and social media.” It urged Iranian authorities to “treat women as equal, respecting the universal rights provided to them under the relevant international human rights treaties.” It called for the release in Iran of “unjustly detained prisoners, including recently arrested protesters, children, journalists and human rights defenders, and... accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses.”

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