Russia clarifies demand for guarantees

March 9, 2022 - 21:8

TEHRAN – Russia has provided clarifications on its demand for written guarantees from the United States regarding the talks in Vienna over reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The clarifications were offered in a briefing meeting at the Russian embassy in Tehran with a limited number of reporters. In the meeting, Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan spoke in detail about the Russian special military operation in neighboring Ukraine. But he also spoke broadly about the Russian demand in Vienna.

Responding to questions from the Tehran Times about the nature of guarantees Russia is now demanding at the Vienna talk, the Russian ambassador lambasted Western media for spreading misinformation about the Russian demand, underlining Moscow’s “positive” approach toward the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), both during the 2015 negotiations that culminated in the deal and the current talks to revive it. 

“You now are hearing contradictory voices claiming that Russia does not want the JCPOA talks to succeed,” the ambassador told the press briefing, noting that these voices are wrong. Because Russia “has adopted a positive approach toward both the JCPOA negotiations in 2015 and the current talks. But it is natural that we will take into account our interests,” he added. 

The Russian demand for guarantees was first made public by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a joint press conference with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbayev in Moscow on March 5.

Responding to a question on the prospect for the conclusion of the Vienna talks in the near future, Lavrov said, “Some problems regarding the interests of the Russian Federation have arisen recently. Agreements on resuming the JCPOA provide for a package of reciprocal commitments.”

He added that the original JCPOA “provided for the absence of any obstacles to trade, economic and investment relations with Iran and to the implementation of military-technical cooperation projects with it. This could seem all right, but the avalanche of aggressive Western sanctions that is still rolling down gives one food for thought. These sanctions should be primarily reviewed by the lawyers.”

He then broached the issue of guarantees. “We would like to receive a clear answer. We need guarantees that sanctions will not affect in any way the regime of trade, economic and investment ties set out in the JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear program. We asked our American colleagues (because they are running the whole show here) to give us guarantees in writing, at least at the level of the Secretary of State, that the current process launched by the US will not impinge in any way on our free full-scale trade, economic, investment and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

The European parties to the JCPOA hinted that the Russian demand is “extraneous” in their March 8 joint statement to the IAEA Board of Governors.

Iran, however, has so far refrained from evaluating the Russian demand and preferred to pursue the matter through diplomatic channels. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke over the phone with Lavrov on Monday. Dzhagaryan said the two went over the Russian demand for guarantees in detail. 

The Russian foreign minister told his Iranian counterpart that “the resuscitation of the JCPOA should ensure that all its participants have equal rights regarding the unhindered development of cooperation in all areas without any discrimination,” according to a Russian foreign ministry statement.

Dzhagaryan reiterated this in his Wednesday briefing, saying that Russia wants the Vienna talks to achieve its goal. “But we will also take into account our interests,” he reiterated.

When asked to provide details about the guarantees Russia is seeking, the ambassador said he is not authorized to give details in this regard. But he said that “we asked the U.S. to give us a clear text on the guarantees which does not have any brackets so that we review it.”

Dzhagaryan said he is in regular contact with Iranian officials and they are fully aware of the Russian demand.

The Tehran Times asked the Russian ambassador whether the possible Western failure to provide written guarantees would impinge on the conclusion of the Vienna talks. “I’m not authorized to make predictions. Only the heads of the negotiating delegations in Vienna and the high-ranking officials in Moscow are in the know about this,” he said.

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