Zarif calls Russia one of Iran’s strategic friends

September 25, 2020 - 17:49

TEHRAN - At the end of his two-day visit to Russia, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran and Russia need to constantly hold talks with Russia, calling Moscow one of Iran’s “strategic friends”.

“We need to have constant and continued talks with the Russian friends given the regional and international circumstances as well as our bilateral relations,” the Fars news agency quoted the foreign minister as saying on Friday.

Zarif visited Moscow on Wednesday amid soaring tensions between Iran and the U.S. over the White House’s unilateral move in announcing the return of all previously terminated UN sanctions on Tehran.

The chief Iranian diplomat said he discussed with Russians the situation around the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and the role Russia has recently played in the United Nations Security Council and the UN nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors.

On August 20, the U.S. unilaterally initiated the so-called snapback mechanism by submitting a complaint against Iran to the UN Security Council. One month later, the U.S. announced the return of all UN sanctions on Iran over the objections of all JCPOA participants, particularly Russia, which strongly rejected the U.S. measure.

As the U.S. turned up the heat on Iran, Zarif paid at least three visits to Russia in the last few months. Zarif said these visits were aimed at “closely coordinating positions” on the developments in the UN Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors. According to the foreign minister, the two sides had a “very successful move” in the two UN bodies.

“Russia is a neighboring country and permanent member of the Security Council. It’s also one of Iran’s strategic friends. I think these talks are a mutual need for the two countries, and God willing, they will continue,” said Zarif, adding that his visit to Moscow was a “very good opportunity” to hold talks with Russia.

The Iranian ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, said Zarif’s visit came after the U.S failed to restore the UN sanctions on Iran. The ambassador also linked the visit to Iran-Russia joint military exercises in the Caspian Seas and the Black Sea.

“Russia, as a supporter of the JCPOA, has recently opposed the resolution adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors. Despite the inhumane and unilateral sanctions of the U.S., Iran and Russia fully stand together in solidarity,” Jalali pointed out.

Lavrov says Russia will in no way build policies based on aggressive illegal demands

Russia on Thursday dismissed the threat of U.S. sanctions and attempts to isolate Iran, saying it intended to trade with Tehran once a UN arms embargo expires next month.

The embargo on conventional arms shipments to Iran is set to expire on October 18 after the United States failed to win support for a new UN resolution.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump says it has decided to unilaterally reinstate virtually all of the UN sanctions on Iran lifted under a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran.

Washington has said it will seek to prevent Iran from purchasing Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems.

Speaking alongside Zarif, Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov dismissed those threats as illegal.

"Russia will in no way build its policies on the basis of these aggressive illegal demands which have no legal force," Lavrov said, according to AFP.

He expressed hope that other countries cooperating with Iran would follow suit.

"The fact that the United States threatened to introduce sanctions on all those who will contradict the U.S. interpretation of the current situation once again confirms that Washington wants to behave like a bull in a china shop," Lavrov added.

"In my opinion, the current (U.S.) administration has lost diplomatic skills almost beyond retrieve," Lavrov said.

He added however that Russia and European countries continued talks with Washington on the subject.

Following the U.S. announcement on the reinstatement of UN sanctions on Iran, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that UN Security Council Resolution 2231 was “unchanged,” which means that Russia still believes that no UN sanctions have been restored even though the U.S. announced their restoration.

“There is no embargo and there would be no limitations whatsoever after the expiration of this timeframe established by the Security Council,” Lavrov said in an interview with AlArabiya.

‘Iranian and Russian presidents to pursue cooperation’

Talking to reporters alongside Lavrov, Zarif also said, “The Presidents of Iran and Russia will seriously follow the implementation of agreements and the process of developing cooperation between the two countries.

Zarif also said, “We also hope to have good cooperation in the fight against the Coronavirus.”

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