Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Interview with Al-Arabiya Channel

September 21, 2020


Question: I would like to move to Iran Sir, the issue of lifting the arms embargo on Iran on the 18th of October 2020, could very well lead to an arms race in the Gulf region, if Iran is able to buy arms there will be a race and much, much worse than the one we have now.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US will put sanctions on those who violate the arms embargo which will not expire on 18th of October according to Secretary Pompeo and reports say that President Trump is planning to issue an Executive Order allowing him to impose US sanctions on anyone, anyone who violates the conventional arms embargo on Iran? Your thoughts Sir?

Sergey Lavrov: There is no such thing as an arms embargo against Iran. The Security Council when it was adopting the comprehensive resolution 2231 which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which settled the nuclear issue for Iran and this was adopted by consensus under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council in that resolution said that the supply of arms to Iran and from Iran would be subject to consideration by the Security Council and that on the 18th October 2020 this regime of sales to Iran would stop and there is no embargo and there would no limitations whatsoever after the expiration of this timeframe established by the Security Council.

I cannot speak for the Americans because they say many funny things and I know only one thing for sure that when the Americans, as their representatives officially continue to assert, that they still are participants of the JCPOA because of resolution 2231, I can only remind them that they should respect the hierarchy in the American Administration because their boss, President Trump personally signed an official decree dropping the United States from the JCPOA, any say which the Americans used to have as equal participants of the JCPOA has evaporated since then.

Question: But as you know Sir, they argue that 2231 is a United Nations Chapter 7 resolution and it’s binding to all members, all members of the United Nations, so even though they have withdrawn from the JCPOA which is an agreement between countries, they cannot withdraw from a Chapter 7 Security Council resolution and hence they argue that any country, any member state of the United Nations is bound by the resolution and hence they are also bound by this resolution and they see the justification to activate the mechanism.

Sergey Lavrov: You know they want to violate and to challenge the famous English proverb they want to have their pie and eat it. They formally left the JCPOA and the Security Council resolution 2231 provides for any action to be done in order to restore the sanctions regime to be initiated by a JCPOA member and they are not members any longer, and if they continue threatening with sanctions all those who would cooperate with Iran on the firm basis of the strict implementation of the conditions of resolution 2231 then I would not be surprised, because they do these sanctions all over the world, for any reason at all, sometimes even without any reason, I always knew that an elephant is a symbol of the Republican Party but please do not consider the world as a china store.

Question: So do I take it that the snapback as far as Russia is concerned does not exist?

Sergey Lavrov: The snapback does not exist as far as everybody is concerned except the United States. This was subject to discussion in the Security Council and 13 members, 13 out of the 15 members of the Security Council clearly stated that there are no legal political or moral reasons for anything close to snapback and all the statements to the contrary are null and void, this is the assessment of all members of the Security Council except the US and somebody else.

Question: Forgive me Mr Lavrov, but are the Russian companies and Russian banks willing to face American sanctions?

Sergey Lavrov: Well as I said the Americans lost any talent for diplomacy unfortunately, they used to have excellent experts, now what they do in the foreign policy area is to put a demand on the table, whether they discus Iran or anything else, and if their partner says, well I don’t think I can do it as you want, let’s negotiate, they don’t negotiate, they put an ultimatum, they give a deadline and then they impose sanctions, then they make the sanctions extra-territorial.

So I can only say that it is absolutely illegitimate to adopt unilateral sanctions not provided by the United Nations Charter.

Unfortunately this practice is becoming contageous and the European Union more and more is engaging the same tricks which the United States has introduced in the last 10 years or so, because don’t forget it all started by the Obama Administration, all those habits to resort to sanctions for no reason at all, they started before this Administration was inaugurated and I can only say that it is if you say whether companies of foreign countries would have to implement the sanctions, I cannot speak for business, business has its own assessment but it is absolutely clear that unilateral actions are illegal and illegitimate and to this effect you can read quite a number of resolutions of the General Assembly.