Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, July 4, 2019 (Excerpts)

July 4, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


Reports on Iran's Exceeding JCPOA-Agreed Stockpile Limit of Low-Enriched Uranium

Russia is closely following the developments around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including the implementation of the provisions on Iran’s nuclear programme parameters.

On July 1, the IAEA recorded a certain excess in the JCPOA-agreed stockpile limit of low-enriched uranium by Tehran and informed the Agency's Board of Governors of this as a mere fact. All work implemented by the Iranian side remains under the full control of the IAEA. There are no concerns regarding nuclear non-proliferation in this connection. We hope that Tehran will continue to act responsibly as regards implementing the safeguards agreement and the additional protocol.

With respect to uranium inventory limits, this is about voluntary obligations that the Iranian side undertook while agreeing to the nuclear deal in 2015. It is regrettable that the JCPOA-agreed limit has been exceeded; however, this should be considered a natural consequence of the preceding events. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked about this in detail at his recent news conference.

Again, I would like to note that we are talking about the US sanctions against Iran that made the latter's implementation of the JCPOA obligations impossible. Iran has long warned that exceeding the limit was imminent.

We believe that the involved parties have to act based on the interests of preserving the JCPOA, and should by no means dramatise the fact, while focusing on the joint work to stabilise the situation around the JCPOA in the context of the efforts taken at the Joint Commission's meeting in Vienna on June 28. These include developing practical measures to allow Iran to export low-enriched uranium and heavy water despite the US sanctions.

Consistent and persistent efforts are needed from the Joint Commission to preserve and continue the comprehensive implementation of the JCPOA.


Question (retranslated): What is Russia’s role in preventing the conflict in the region that may be triggered by actions of the United States against Iran?

Maria Zakharova: We are seriously concerned about the tensions in the region that are being exacerbated by the aggressive statements from the United States against Iran that we are hearing from the White House, the Department of State, the Pentagon and the National Security Advisor’s office. Not only are these statements aggressive, they are also inconsistent. I would say there are different degrees of aggression without any clear strategy or concept. We can see only one substantive tendency, which is constant intimidation of Iran. This is where we have observed consistency in the American approach. Unfortunately, when it comes to any other issues, the United States is not demonstrating consistency. Suffice it to mention their claims of a possible missile attack that horrified the world.

The region abounds in conflict spots that over the past years have overgrown the level of local and even regional conflicts. They have turned into a breeding ground for international terrorism, which has found a new source of strength there. To the same extent that the international terrorist activity was localised in the context of Afghanistan, for example, the international terrorist community got a second wind by feeding on local and regional conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.  We have seen the outcome of these conflicts. They destroy states and infrastructure; they result not only in a sweeping impoverishment but a degradation of nations (not suffering but degradation is the word). The historical, political, economic, financial and defence potential that has accumulated over centuries ceased to exist within several years in a number of territories. It was destroyed. Libya is a graphic example.

Even if we set aside international law and the understanding that it is unacceptable to make aggressive statements against a sovereign state that follows the democratic law which is so important to the Western world (although it deserves a discussion), let’s think about the interests of the region. What will the region get from yet another acute conflict? I think it is beyond argument that it will plunge into another wave of chaos. We cannot help but worry about this and we express our concerns and clarify Russia’s position at all levels.

You asked about Russia’s role. Russia supports international law and existing legal mechanisms that quieted concerns of various countries with respect to Iran in the past, specifically, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA was a mechanism that our country actively participated in developing. It seems fair to say that it resolved the issues on the table for the subsequent four years and would have continued to do so successfully if the United States had not withdrawn from the agreement unilaterally. Our country clearly expresses its views. Russia’s mediation is not even in the equation because we are talking about the aggressive attitude of the United States towards Iran. We are criticising it in every possible way, to put it mildly. We do not accept it and find it illegitimate. Our opinion is that in this case it is necessary to go back to the international legal mechanisms that fully meet the interests of the United States, Iran and other countries in the region. These mechanisms do not produce anything but solutions and are certain not to aggravate the situation.