TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has asked Moscow to clarify its demands for a “written guarantee” from the US regarding Russian cooperation with Tehran.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said he has heard Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments about guarantees from Washington that Russian cooperation with Tehran will not be hindered by sanctions imposed on Moscow.
He said Russia’s approach in the Vienna nuclear talks has been “constructive”, and its concerns in the wake of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis are “understandable”.
Moscow has sought a “written guarantee” from the US that the sanctions imposed on it by the US-led NATO military coalition would not hamper its cooperation with Iran.
“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 (JCPOA),” Lavrov said.
Under the 2015 nuclear deal, he noted, Russia and China – Tehran’s two all-weather-allies – would be permitted to help Iran develop its civilian nuclear program in line with non-proliferation guidelines.
Khatibzadeh said they have asked for the clarification and are looking to hear the details from Moscow through diplomatic channels.
“It is clear that the Vienna talks are moving in the right direction,” the spokesman said. “Iran’s peaceful nuclear cooperation should not be limited or affected by any sanctions, including Iran’s cooperation with China, Russia and other countries.”
It comes as the talks are close to an agreement between Tehran and Washington, which would roll back Iran’s nuclear activities in return for relief from harsh sanctions.
Experts believe that once sanctions are eased, Iran will be in a position to sell its vast reserves of oil and gas to Europe, replacing Russia as the main supplier. That will reduce Europe’s overwhelming dependence on Russian energy.
Although Western countries have not yet imposed direct sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas sector, there is a speculation that if Iran steps in as Russia’s substitute, the sanctions would move ahead swiftly.
This prospect has been very unnerving for Russia.
Last month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had said that Iran was ready to supply natural gas to the world, including Europe.
Raisi said Iran as “one of the countries with the largest natural gas reserves” has the capacity to supply it to the world, calling for “security of the global energy market.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the US State Department said “The new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its potential implementation.”