Zarif bears Rouhani’s message to Moscow

Lavrov blames U.S. ‘irresponsible’ acts for ‘unacceptable situation’ surrounding JCPOA

May 8, 2019 - 19:25

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday delivered a letter by President Hassan Rouhani, which was addressed at Russian President Vladimir Putin, to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Zarif and Lavrov also sat down to discuss Iran’s countermeasures to U.S. exit from the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal and imposition of sanctions, which include reducing the level of Tehran’s commitment to the deal.

During a press conference after his meeting with Zarif, Lavrov said the “irresponsible” policies of the U.S. government have led to an “unacceptable situation” in which the multilateral pact on Iran’s nuclear program may fail.

Lavrov criticized the Trump administration, saying, “As I understand, our main task here is to discuss the unacceptable situation, which has unfolded around the JCPOA as a result of irresponsible behavior by the United States.”

Russia is one of the signatories of the 2015 document, also known as JCPOA, which offered Iran relief from economic sanctions in exchange for accepting restriction on its nuclear industry.

‘60-day window of opportunity for diplomacy’

The Iranian minister, for his part, said Tehran’s actions came in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, and were not meant to destroy the agreement.

“[They] can be reversed. There is a 60-day windows of opportunity for diplomacy,” Zarif stated.

Iran on Wednesday announced that it will no longer observe the limits on reserves of enriched uranium and heavy water established by the deal, calling it a response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA exactly a year ago. 

Unless European signatories of the agreement deliver on their promise to protect the Iranian economy from unilateral sanctions reimposed by the U.S. over the last 12 months, Iran would take further action, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.

All signatories were formally notified about Tehran’s decision, with Zarif using his coinciding visit to Moscow to offer personal explanations about why it was taken.

Lavrov stressed that Russia appreciated Iran’s continued compliance with the JCPOA even after the U.S. broke its side of the bargain.

Tehran to continue engagement with ‘relevant’ actors

After meeting with Lavrov, Zarif briefed his Twitter followers of the subject matter of the talks.

“Substantive consultations in Russia. Convergence of views including: JCPOA is in critical condition bec of US - and Europe's failure to uphold its obligations. EU/E3 must step up for JCPOA to survive.”

The Iranian foreign minister rounded off his tweet by saying “Iran’s choice is constructive engagement with credible *and* relevant actors”.

Kremlin blames U.S. for Tehran’s decision

Also on Wednesday, the Kremlin spokesman said that Iran is being provoked into rolling back some terms of the nuclear deal due to external pressure, which he blamed on the United States.

“President Putin has repeatedly spoken of the consequences of unthought-out steps regarding Iran and by that I mean the decision taken by Washington (to quit the deal). Now we are seeing those consequences are starting to happen,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call, according to Reuters.

Peskov said Russia wanted to keep the nuclear deal alive and that its diplomats were doing all they could behind the scenes in talks with European officials to try to save it.

Asked if Russia might be ready to join other countries in imposing new sanctions against Iran over its partial roll back on the deal, Peskov said: “For now, we need to soberly analyze the situation and exchange views on this. The situation is serious.”


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