Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope for the revitalization of the 2015 multilateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear program within its original format, amid a diplomatic process in Vienna, Austria, aimed at having the United States rejoin the accord.
Addressing a UN Security Council session on Friday about the developments in the Caspian Sea region, Putin referred to the Vienna negotiations between Tehran and the P4+1 group of signatories to the deal — France, Britain, Russia, China plus Germany — and said “many issues related to the Iran nuclear program are currently being addressed.”
The Russian leader described Iran as a neighbor in the Caspian Sea region, saying that the revival of the nuclear deal — formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — will help Moscow broaden its relations with Iran among the other Caspian Sea littoral countries.
“I hope that everything related to the JCPOA will be restored to its initial state and we will be able to build relations with all participants of the Caspian club and implement all our plans, including those in the Caspian region,” Putin told the Council via video link.
The JCPOA has been in disarray since May 2018, when the US under ex-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out and imposed rounds of the “toughest ever” sanctions on Iran, including the bans lifted by the deal and those placed on the country under new labels.
Washington also successfully pressured the European trio in the JCPOA not to help Iran neutralize the US sanctions as per their contractual obligations, prompting Tehran to resort to a retaliation mechanism stipulated in Article 36 of the deal, which allows a party to suspend parts of its commitments in case of non-compliance by others.
With the election of new US President Joe Biden, the White House has criticized Trump’s Iran policy and claimed it wants to walk back Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Iran, however, says the US must first remove all the Trump-era sanctions unconditionally and verifiably in order to regain the right to come back to the agreement. The Biden administration has so far refused to meet that condition.
The Vienna negotiations, which began in early April, has focused on the dispute between Tehran and Washington, with the participants making efforts to end the row and keep the deal alive.
Russian diplomat: US must take first step toward Iran deal
Among the signatories, Russia and China have been standing by Tehran’s argument that Washington should take the first step back toward the deal by removing all the anti-Iran sanctions.
In an interview with France’s Le Monde daily, published on Friday, Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador to Vienna-based international organizations, renewed the call for the United States to take the first step since it was the Americans that created problems by their departure.
Ulyanov criticized Washington for freezing Iranian assets abroad as an “unlawful measure,” saying it is time for the Biden administration to free Iran’s assets blocked in South Korea and Japan as a “good will” gesture.
The senior Russian diplomat also expressed hope for a “diplomatic success” in efforts to end the stalemate over the Iran deal in the weeks to come.