Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, July 11, 2019 (Excerpts)

July 11, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


Outcome of the extraordinary IAEA Board of Governors meeting

On July 10, the IAEA Board of Governors held an extraordinary meeting in Vienna to discuss Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Ahead of the event, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano made two reports on the partial suspension by Iran of its voluntary JCPOA commitments to simultaneously keep on its territory up to 300 kg of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent.

The IAEA pointed out that these steps do not pose an immediate proliferation risk. The Agency is closely monitoring all of Iran’s projects, which are not in violation of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA Safeguards Agreement or the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement, which Iran is strictly honouring.

It looks like we have long entered the age of a “developed looking-glass world.” Ironically, the extraordinary IAEA Board of Governors meeting was held at the request of the United States, which announced back in May 2018 that it was pulling out of the JCPOA. Washington has unilaterally abandoned all of its obligations and openly violated UNSC Resolution 2231 and Article 25 of the UN Charter. At the same time, Washington continues to demand that Iran strictly comply with all the provisions of the nuclear deal, which the US has torpedoed for more than a year and is trying to prevent the other signatories from honouring it. I cannot understand Washington’s intentions. Does it think that the general public will not bother about the details and that the endless repetition of phrases, like “the nuclear potential,” “nuclear threat” and “non-compliance with agreements,” will create the impression that Iran is always the guilty party and that this subject can be endlessly exploited? Is this what Washington wants? I hope that Washington still has a trace of respect for the public, which provides the foundation for democracy.

The US position has not been supported by the IAEA, which sharply criticised it. It is obvious that the root cause of the current JCPOA tension is Washington’s policy of putting maximum pressure on Tehran based on anti-Iran sentiments and a desire to bring about a change of government in a sovereign state. The United States has been shown that the overwhelming majority of the IAEA states believe that there is no alternative to the JCPOA, have unilaterally spoken up in its support and for the continued implementation of the comprehensive agreements. We hope that our American colleagues will learn a lesson from this and possibly chew things over once again.

We appreciate the IAEA’s contribution to the stability of the comprehensive agreements and hope that the Agency will retain a professional, objective and unbiased attitude when implementing its monitoring and verification obligations based on UNSC Resolution 2231.

We consistently and strongly urge all the JCPOA states to honour their obligations under the comprehensive agreements and UNSC Resolution 2231. We believe that this is a vital condition for ensuring that the nuclear deal, which was made following years of difficult and stressful talks and is an example of an effective settlement of one of the most complicated problems, survives this stress test and that the goals of the JCPOA are achieved in full.


Question: What is Russia’s view of the French diplomatic efforts regarding Iran? Is Russia involved? What are the prospects?

Maria Zakharova: At previous briefings we were asked about Russia’s mediation and we said that the relations in question are the relations between two countries, the United States and Iran. All the opportunities for a normal dialogue are in place if only Washington stops building up tension. I hope that we all know and remember (we remember, I hope you do, too) Washington and Tehran conducting a meticulous and mutually respectful dialogue. Of course, every party defended its own interests during the development of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action but they still took each other’s views into consideration. This experience can be and should be applied to resolving other issues. So, all the opportunities for a normal and mutually respectful dialogue between Washington and Tehran are in place. This experience is recent. A couple of years ago, we witnessed hours-long rounds of talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. There were no ideological, cultural or other obstacles for those talks. So in this case mediation is not necessary.

However, we are very well aware that other countries and, of course, France have their own interests. This question should be addressed to France, not Russia.

It is another matter that we can only welcome everything that could defuse the hysteria of a whole number of Washington officials about Iran. But it is necessary to work with Washington because Tehran is acting consistently and relying on law while not only showing respect but also demonstrating admirable patience in its relations with international partners.

Question: Please comment on the UK’s reckless behaviour in detaining an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar in violation of international law. Do you think that these actions are a case of piracy and a breach of JCPOA?

Maria Zakharova: I would prefer to use the term “fanning tensions in the region.” This expression is not so much legal as political, but it captures the meaning of the developments to a T. Possibly this is part of a strategy to change Iran’s position on a number of issues. I think Washington is not concealing this either, as part of the Anglo-Saxon partnership. In any case, this road has never led to anything good. At the same time, negotiations with the Iranian partners, which take into account the legal specifics of some or other situation and are based on mutual respect, always yield excellent results. Quite likely, those in the West, who are responsible for foreign policy implementation and for the international agenda, lack the experience pointing to the advantages of the negotiating process involving Tehran, among others. They may be aware that these negotiating processes are difficult and require not so much political rage as skills, knowledge and aptitude. Perhaps, this is the reason. But it is totally unclear why they always choose escalation and tension. I think those who peruse the relevant literature from the last ten years or so will come to the conclusion that this sort of approach always leads to an impasse.


Question: How did Russia respond to the Strait of Hormuz incident involving UK and Iranian ships?

Maria Zakharova: We proceed from the assumption that there should be no escalation of tensions in the region, given that the situation is becoming  dramatic as it is. We have seen the degree of both rhetoric and concrete action rise to a peak. We are well aware that this kind of approach lacks any potential and we know the consequences to which it could lead. What is needed, therefore, is not to foment tensions in the region but, on the contrary, to act in such a way as to steer the situation towards the negotiating process in order to answer the questions the parties may have.