Iran understands Russia demand for guarantees

March 8, 2022 - 21:21

TEHRAN – Over the last few days, media and diplomatic circles have been abuzz with inaccurate speculations over how Russia’s demand for guarantees would impact the course of the Vienna talks.

The Russian request for guarantees came at a time when talks in Vienna over reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), were inching toward the finishing line. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions the West imposed on Russia over Ukraine will create a problem for the Iran nuclear deal and demanded written guarantees from the U.S. that these sanctions won’t impede Russia-Iran cooperation in case the JCPOA is revived.

“We want an answer - a very clear answer - we need a guarantee that these sanctions will not in any way touch the regime of trade-economic and investment relations which is laid down in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the Russian foreign minister said.

He added, “We have asked for a written guarantee ... that the current process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic.”

Iran quickly understood Russia’s reasons for demanding guarantees as Iran itself has been pressing for such guarantees. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, hinted that the Russian move was intended to secure Russia’s interests and thus understandable. 

“The positive and negative moves by the countries participating in the Vienna talks are being made with the aim of securing interests and are understandable. The only factor affecting our interaction with the P4+1 is securing the interests of the people of Iran. Thus, we're assessing new elements that bear on the negotiations and will accordingly seek creative ways to expedite a solution,” Shamkhani said on Twitter.

Russia is yet to explain the exact nature of the guarantees it’s now demanding. But Russian officials said they want to make sure that their economic cooperation with Iran won’t be hindered by sanctions imposed by the West over Ukraine. 

The foreign ministers of Iran and Russia discussed the matter over the phone on Monday. During the phone conversation, “it was emphasized that the resuscitation of the JCPOA should ensure that all its participants have equal rights regarding the unhindered development of cooperation in all areas,” the Russian embassy in Tehran said on Twitter.

Russia has a right to worry about sanctions hampering its economic cooperation with Iran. But the possible fallouts emanating from the West’s sanctions on Russia are manageable in terms of strengthening Iran-Russia economic ties. Iran and Russia can boost their economic cooperation even if the West continues to slap sanctions on Moscow. They have a shared maritime border in the Caspian Sea, which is one of the rare places in the world that is not under the domination of the West.

Tehran and Moscow can use maritime routes and boost their trade through devising innovative financial mechanisms that do not rely on the U.S. dollar or other Western currencies.

The Russian demands have not turned into a stumbling block and there is plenty of time to discuss and solve them. In fact, currently, the conclusion of Vienna talks is only dependent on the U.S. making political decisions on some outstanding issues that are part of Iran’s red lines. 

And Iran is unlikely to cross its red lines. On Tuesday, Iranian President Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi made it clear that Tehran will not back down from its red lines.
 

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