By Ali Akbar Jenabzadeh and Saeed Mavadat

It’s very logical Iran seeking guarantee U.S. wouldn’t quit nuclear deal again: Russian ambassador

November 28, 2021 - 21:32

TEHRAN – The Russian Ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, says some Iranian demands for success of the Vienna talks are primarily intended to lift sanctions against Iran in accordance to the 2015 nuclear agreement are “very logical”.

“Some Iranian demands are very logical,” Dzhagaryan tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

“For example, they, the Iranian side, want (the U.S.) to guarantee, let's say, in future Americans wouldn't repeat the same step as they did before. The Iranian side also needs some guarantees from the European businesses to fulfill and to implement all that contract. It is quite logical,” Ambassador Dzhagaryan notes.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018 and returned the previous sanctions lifted under the agreement and imposed new ones under different names. The European parties also refused to honor their commitments under the agreement and only paid lip service to the pact. 

The U.S. sanctions, which are still on despite a new president in the White House, run contrary to international law because the JCPOA is confirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Diplomats from Iran, Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain, and the U.S. officially resume talks in Vienna on Monday with the intention of restoring the historic agreement.  

The U.S. is involved in the talks indirectly because Iran has said it will not enter direct negotiations with Americans until they return to the JCPOA.

The talks are being resumed after a five-month hiatus due to the June presidential election in Iran. New Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has said Iran is serious in the talks and asked the Western sides to enter Vienna with a “new and constructive” approach.

Following is the text of the interview with Ambassador Dzhagaryan:

Q: The first question is about the nuclear talks that are scheduled to be resumed in Vienna on Monday. In a recent phone call on November 16 with his Iranian counterpart, the Russian President, Mr. Putin, expressed hope that all nuclear deal parties would have sufficient political will to conclude the Vienna talks. What is Russia's view toward the Vienna talks and does Russia believe that the Vienna talks should come to a swift conclusion?

A: Of course, telephone conversation between our presidents touched upon nuclear issue which is very important not only for Iran or Russia, but for the region, and I would say even for the world because it can result in establishment of sustainable stability in the region.

First of all, the situation which was created recently around JCPOA was as a result of a destructive policy of the previous American administration. The Iranian side from the very beginning of 2015 was committed to its obligations and in terms of transparency was the most verified country under the JCPOA. Unfortunately the American administration blatantly violated its international obligations and international law.

Iranian side also needs some guarantees from the European businesses to implement the JCPOA.

Iranians just tried to be committed to their obligations but finally we know that Tehran decided to, let’s say, come back from their previous obligations. Of course, we were very concerned with the current situation, that's why the negotiations were resumed in Vienna and finished on June 20 with some very important agreements from both sides after six rounds of talks.

Now fortunately all parties, and first of all the Iranian side, have agreed resume the talks on November 29. We would like to continue these negotiations based on the agreements which had been reached on June 20, because a lot of job was done by all parties including the Iranians during the 6 rounds. These [negotiations] of course, were very fruitful.

Some Iranian demands are very logical. For example, they, the Iranian side, want to guarantee, let's say, in future Americans wouldn't repeat the same step as they did before. The Iranian side also needs some guarantees from the European businesses to fulfill and to implement all that contract. It is quite logical.

We also have some expectations from our Iranian friends, and we have conveyed this message during video confidence together with our Chinese friends which was held on November 15 at the level of deputy foreign ministers. We are sincerely interested in fruitful results in cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Some people have been expressing the view that Russia wasn't interested in reaching a final result and the Russian role was just demonstrated as a negative one, but it was not correct. Russia from the very beginning was constructive and we've just paid a lot of efforts to revive the original JCPOA reached in 2015 and we will continue to do our job.

Q: Our second question is about the recent tensions between the two neighboring countries of Iran, namely Azerbaijan or Armenia. The tensions between the two countries have risen again and we notice that there have been sporadic border clashes. Does Russia have a specific plan for resolving the tensions between the two countries?

A: First of all, I would like to underline that Armenia is our military ally and Azerbaijan is our strategic partner and we have a very good relationship with both countries including the relationship between my president, President Putin and the leadership of Azerbaijan and Armenia. I would like to underline and to recall you that last year Russia played an active and key role to stop these clashes after the 44-day war between the two countries, and we have deployed our peacekeepers. We do a lot, just to observe ceasefire and to try to help the stability in the region between the two countries.

On November 26 in Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikola Pashinyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev held trilateral talks. The sides agreed on a number of issues which are vital. The first of them is establishment of mechanism for border demarcation and delimitation between the two states, and the sides agreed to complete this work by the end of the year. The second is the very sensitive point related to humanitarian issues. And finally, three lieders held in-depth discussion on economic issues, on developing economic ties and spoke about unblocking transport corridors. This concerns both railway and road traffic. The deputy prime ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been working on all of this issues. 

We are also working on a mechanism to create a sort of confidence between the two countries and to find a political solution at format of 3+3 (Russia, Turkey, Iran plus Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan). Russia had proposed to hold a meeting at the level of the five deputy foreign ministers in Moscow. Unfortunately, right now for some political reasons Georgians aren’t ready but the door is open. Maybe, if not now, maybe in future Georgian colleagues will join the process because it's very important.
That's why we are working as an honest broker in this regard. Iran, also I think, is an honest broker and we appreciate Iran’s balanced stance, and Iran has very friendly relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and both countries also have confidence on Iran. 

Q: Our next question is about a conversation between Ayatollah Raisi and Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin supported drafting a document on long term cooperation between Iran and Russia. Earlier, Iranian officials said that talks had been held on the document. What are the latest developments related to this document?

A: First of all, I would like to remind you that the previous document or the current one was signed in March of 2001 in Moscow and when I was working as a counsellor there on the Iranian desk, I participated directly in preparing this document together with my colleagues and I was an interpreter in the negotiations between the two presidents of our countries at the time. Now 20 years have passed. It's high time, maybe, to modernize the document, taking into consideration new realities. We are waiting for our Iranian friends to sum up the document and we are ready to get it as soon as possible. 

Q: The UN arms embargo against Iran expired in October 2020 under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. Do Iran and Russia have a plan for arms trade, and has Russia sold weapons to Iran since the embargo expired. And what about the future?

A: I would answer you briefly. First of all, you are right. This arms embargo expired on October 18, 2020 last year and now we have no problems to sell any weapon to the Islamic Republic of Iran of course by taking into consideration issues such as nonproliferation, and some issues like export control and so on. Once again, we are ready and we are ready to consider very attentively all Iranian proposals. No problem, because right now it's legal. Any unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran are illegal I would like to underline once again. 

Q: The next question is what are the latest developments on the status of Russian-Iranian talks on the Caspian Sea legal convention and what is Moscow’s view on this issue?

A: You know this question was just touched upon in our last phone conversation between the two presidents and we, from time to time, adjust to raise the issue in our talks with our Iranian friends. We know that the issue is a little bit sensitive for Iran. In 2018 in Aktau, Kazakhstan, the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea was signed and Iran is the only country which didn't ratify this document, and as far as I understand, domestic discussions are underway. We expect our Iranian friends to once again attentively consider it and join the other countries in ratifying it because it is very important, though of course we will also be able to separately discuss some other issues. For example, the basis lines. We now are preparing the negotiations between 5 littoral countries; I mean the so-called working group in Moscow. We are talking to arrange the meeting at a time which is acceptable for all Caspian countries and the Russian Federation is ready to host it next month again.

Q: Let’s point to the recent visit by the UAE foreign minister to Syria. Some Arab circles claim that these moves are made to reduce Iran’s influence with a tacit support of Russia. What is your opinion? 

A: You know, this visit is very important. We also try to convince all our partners to be more active in relations with the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic and to convince them to help, let's say, return of the Syrians and the city of Damascus to the Arab family. We have the same stance with our Iranian friends. 

The contribution of Arab countries is very sensitive for the reconstruction of Syria and its economy. We are considering a possibility to export electricity from Jordan and gas from Egypt to Lebanon using Syria’s transit route. There is also a very important phone conversation between Jordanian King Abdallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad. I do believe that these steps are very useful and they are not reduce Russian or Iranian presence in Syria. I would like to underline that only our troops are present in Syria legitimately at the invitation of the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic. 

Q: For our last question, I want to ask you what's your reaction to recent allegations that Russia together with China inked a gas deal with Iran for development of the Chalus gas side? What is the purpose behind these allegations?

A: We have hit a lot of such allegations. False and baseless. There was also a reaction from our embassy and these false allegations are spread by those who are against the friendly relations between our countries and so what we say that our talks with the Iranians are quite transparent and mutually beneficial.

As I thought this allegation is maybe being spread by American special services because a big reason in just spreading such false allegations is that to make a gap between friendly countries but these things wouldn't get any success. They are doomed to failure.



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