Russian Foreign Minister with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif during a meeting in Moscow on April 28, 2018
Visiting Moscow as part of his diplomatic marathon to save the nuclear deal, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif said he wants “assurances” from the signatories of this text abandoned with a crash by the United States.
The second leg of his diplomatic tour, Zarif met Monday morning with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov after consultations in Beijing during the weekend and before his arrival in Brussels on Tuesday where he will meet his counterparts French, German and British.
At the end of these talks around the world, he will then have toured the five powers that, in addition to the United States, had signed with Iran this historic agreement in 2015, which provided for a lifting of sanctions against Iran in counterpart to the Islamic Republic’s commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons.
“The ultimate goal of all these talks is to secure assurances that the interests of the Iranian people, guaranteed by (the agreement) will be defended,” Zarif said at the beginning of the meeting with Mr. Lavrov.
The head of the Russian diplomacy for its part felt that Russians and Europeans should “defend their interests together” on this issue.
The exit of the United States leads to a rapprochement between Moscow and the Europeans, rare given the tensions of recent years, fueled by the Syrian and Ukrainian issues and recently reinforced by the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in England.
The agreement was concluded in July 2015 after years of bitter negotiations between Iran and the 5 + 1 group (Germany, China, United States, France, United Kingdom and Russia). Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear program until 2025.
The Iranians now hope to “be able to establish a clear future framework for the deal,” Zarif told Beijing, warning that Iran was “ready for all options” if its interests were uninsured.
On Friday, he said Tehran was preparing to resume “industrial enrichment” of uranium “without any restrictions” unless Europe provides strong guarantees of maintaining trade relations with Iran.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had increased contacts last week on the Iranian issue by talking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, putting Russia at the center of the game after the shattering withdrawal of Americans.
– Merkel and Macron in Russia –
At a meeting Thursday in Tehran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov and his Iranian counterpart Abbas Araghchi had already stressed their “commitment to safeguarding the agreement.”
Putin, for his part, said Wednesday “deeply worried” about Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement and to reinstate sanctions against the Islamic Republic in the near future.
Russia has emerged in recent years as a major player in the Middle East, a role reinforced by its military intervention in Syria launched in 2015 in support of Bashar al-Assad. It has good relations with countries with divergent and sometimes rival interests, from Iran to Turkey to Israel.
Merkel is expected on May 18 in Sochi, southern Russia, for a meeting with Vladimir Putin, while French President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit St. Petersburg in late May.
“The cooperation (between the Europeans) and Russia, which seemed yesterday still impossible with the Skripal affair, the cross-expulsions of diplomats and the weakening of contacts, is now enjoying a new momentum,” stresses Andrei Baklitski, an analyst at Russian research center PIR.
On Monday, Putin will meet Yukiya Amano, the director of the World Atomic Agency in Sochi, according to his adviser Yuri Ushakov.
Long antagonistic, Russia and Iran have seen their relations improve with the end of the Cold War. While Tehran was on the ban of nations, Moscow agreed to resume in the mid-1990s the contract for the construction of the Iranian nuclear plant at Bouchehr, abandoned by Germany.
Experts believe that Russia could benefit economically from the US withdrawal, being less exposed than Europe to the consequences of reinstating sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
burs-or-pop / gmo / SBA