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Moscow 'expects' Iran nuclear deal to be saved

April 13, 2021

The Russian foreign minister has arrived in Tehran for talks with Iranian leaders on how to salvage the nuclear agreement with world powers. Talks on EU sanctions and the 'cyber operation' at Natanz are also expected.

Sergej Lavrow in Teheran with counterpart Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow condemns any attempts to undermine talks on the nuclear dealImage: Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP/picture alliance

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said Moscow expected the Iranian nuclear deal to be saved and condemned EU sanctions against Iran, saying they could undermine ongoing nuclear talks.

"We expect that it will be possible to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," Lavrov said, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran.

"As far as we understand, our partners in Tehran have expressed their readiness to immediately move in that direction" if Washington upholds agreements on its end, Lavrov added.

The Russian foreign minister also denounced recent EU sanctions on Iran, saying they raised "a huge number of questions" while sensitive talks aimed at salvaging the deal on restricting Iran's atomic ambition were ongoing.

"I hope our European colleagues understand that such actions are unacceptable and will take measures not to allow the talks to be derailed," Lavrov said.

Iran nuclear deal talks restart

'Mistake worse than a crime'

On Monday, the EU added eight Iranian security officials, including the head of the Revolutionary Guards, and three prisons to a sanctions blacklist consisting of asset freezes and visa bans over a 2019 protest crackdown.

The sanctions came as Vienna negotiations over efforts to save the nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran are due to continue later this week.

"If there is any kind of coordination lacking in the EU and the right hand is not aware of what the left hand is doing, that's simply unfortunate," Lavrov said.

"But if this decision has been deliberately taken amid the talks continuing in Vienna to rescue the JCPOA then it is not just unfortunate — this is a mistake that is worse than a crime.

"We condemn any attempt to undermine the process," he added.

How did Iran respond?

Zarif said Iran has "no problem with returning to implementing JCPOA commitments." He warned that "acts of sabotage" and sanctions will give Washington no added advantage in talks on reviving the floundering 2015 nuclear deal, which the US quit in 2018 under former President Donald Trump's administration.

"But the Americans should know that neither sanctions nor acts of sabotage will give them negotiation tools and these acts will only make the situation more difficult for them," the Iranian diplomat said during a joint press conference with Lavrov.

Iran's IRNA news agency reported that the Russian foreign minister also met with President Hassan Rouhani, and that the recent cyberattack on the Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran is also expected to be discussed. Media reports in Iran attributed the "sabotage" to Israel carrying out a "cyber operation."

mvb/aw (dpa, AFP)