Russia Urges Iran to Stick to JCPOA Despite American Hostility

Russia Urges Iran to Stick to JCPOA Despite American Hostility
Russia Urges Iran to Stick to JCPOA Despite American Hostility

Moscow is seeking to convince Tehran to stick to its commitments under the two-year nuclear deal despite being struck by several rounds of fresh US sanctions as part of Washington's toughened Iran policy, a Russian lawmaker said.

"I think we will do everything possible to convince Iran to maintain the status quo … The uncontrolled spread of nuclear technologies is not at all a boon for all, including Russia," a member of the Russian upper house of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Oleg Morozov, also told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Morozov stressed that the escalation of tensions has resulted from the US failure in its overambitious attempts to "play the role of a policeman to the world, judge and hangman at the same time".

"The US policy of indiscriminate sanctions and pressure on third countries will make no good and contribute to emerging of new areas of tension … The United States imposes conditions on others from a position of strength, giving no guarantees of preserving sovereignty of these countries," he said.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he hoped Iran would not quit the nuclear agreement.

Lavrov also said he hoped the US would not violate its obligations under the deal.

"I think unilateral sanctions ... are irresponsible actions that can hurt and undermine the balance achieved," Lavrov was quoted as saying by Reuters.

President Hassan Rouhani, in an address to the Iranian Parliament on Tuesday, warned that Tehran could exit the nuclear deal "in hours" if the United States continued expanding sanctions.

But he also tempered his own threat, adding that the Islamic Republic seeks to remain loyal to its commitments under the pact, which opened a "path of cooperation and confidence-building" with the world.

"The deal was a model of the victory of peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism," said Rouhani. "It was Iran's preference, but it was not and will not remain Iran's only option," Rouhani said, as cited by AP.

Responding to Rouhani, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement the new US sanctions were unrelated to the deal and that Iran must be held responsible for its missile launches and alleged "support for terrorism, disregard for human rights and violations of UN Security Council resolutions".

"Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage ... The nuclear deal must not become 'too big to fail'," Haley said.

The US and Russia, along with China and three European powers reached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the accord is formally known, with Iran on July 14, 2015, following 18 months of negotiations to curtail its nuclear work in exchange for relief from multilateral international sanctions.

Last month, US President Donald Trump signed into law a contentious congressional bill on new non-nuclear sanctions against Iran over the country's missile program and alleged terrorism sponsorship and human rights violations.

The anti-Iran sanctions were included in a package that also targeted Russia and North Korea.

The move has been widely criticized by senior Iranian officials, asserting that the US bill violated the provisions of JCPOA and Tehran vowed to impose retaliatory measures against the US individuals and entities.   

On Sunday, the Iranian Parliament voted to allocate hundreds of million dollars for the development of its missile program and its counterterrorism operations across the region in response to the US sanctions.

Morozov said Russia might convene a meeting with the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany to address concerns over Iran's nuclear deal.

***Unlikely to Unravel  

While the senator believes Iran's withdrawal from the action plan has become possible because Tehran sees no other way to secure its national interests, other Russian experts consider it an "unlikely" move by either side.

"Iran, I think, is very unlikely to withdraw from the deal. Rouhani is making a calculated and entirely reasonable bluff on the basis that numerous European, US and other multinationals have now traveled significant distance in making significant inroads into new Iranian opportunities," said Christopher Davidson, an associate professor in Middle East Politics at Durham University's School of Government and International Affairs.

Davidson was referring to a flurry of visits to Tehran by foreign trade delegations in the wake of the sanctions relief, seeking to establish a foothold in the Iranian market that remained untapped over the sanctions years.

The expert said the US and Iran appeared to be "engaging in a game of brinkmanship".

According to Davidson, Washington needed to show to its allies in the region, including Riyadh, that it was "tough" on Iran, but the two sides realized that the nuclear deal was good for business, so neither was likely to willingly lose these advantages.

Vladimir Fitin, the head of Middle East Center at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, stressed it is highly unlikely that Tehran or any of the US partners will walk out because no one is really interested in ruining the deal.

"I do not think that [Rouhani's warning] has any real foundations for now, because, except for the United States, all the other [JCPOA] participants are completely uninterested in ripping this document up, since it had taken a lot of work, time and efforts to come to joint conclusions," he said.


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