Mar 15, 2022 - World

Lavrov says Russia received "written guarantees" over Iran deal

Lavrov. Photo: Rıza Özel/ dia images via Getty

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Russia had received "written guarantees" from the U.S. that sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine will not impair its nuclear cooperation with Iran.

Why it matters: Lavrov may be backtracking from a demand he made last week that Russia's trade ties with Iran be exempt from the Ukraine sanctions, and signaling that Moscow won't block a deal from being finalized.

  • Lavrov's demand seriously complicated the nuclear talks in Vienna and led to a "pause" in negotiations just as a deal had appeared imminent.
  • The Russian demand was criticized in several Iranian media reports, though the Iranian government did not blame Russia publicly.

Driving the news: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday to try to resolve the issue.

  • In a press conference alongside Amir-Abdollahian, Lavrov said Russia had received "written guarantees" in the text of the agreement to restore the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • "All projects and areas of activity envisaged by the JCPOA have been protected, including the direct involvement of our companies and specialists," Lavrov said.
  • Yes, but: Lavrov did not say Russia had received guarantees that its trade with Iran would be protected.

What they're saying: Lavrov denied the U.S. accusation that Russia was slowing the completion of the deal. “The arrangement has not been finally approved in some capitals. Moscow is not among them," he said.

  • A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on Lavrov's remarks but said, “Perhaps it is now clear to Moscow that the new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its implementation."
  • The spokesperson said the U.S. will not sanction Russian participation in nuclear projects tied to implementing the nuclear deal, but also won’t provide assurances beyond that to Russia.

What’s next: Western diplomats involved in the Iran talks said they still didn’t get any official clarification from Russia other than Lavrov’s comment and they wait to hear more from the Russians in order to understand whether this obstacle was really removed or not.

Worth noting: In another signal that a deal might be close, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a U.K. national held in Iran since 2016, had her passport returned, leading to speculation Iran could free her as part of the deal.

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