Question: Against the background of Russia and China complying with the nuclear deal, Iran is taking the fourth step to further reduce its JCPOA commitments. Europe has failed to honour its JCPOA commitments. What fate awaits the agreement? Will Moscow continue to comply with it?
Sergey Lavrov: We are quite anxious about the JCPOA situation. This anxiety did not originate today or yesterday; it was sparked off in May 2018, when the United States announced, in a rather arrogant way, that it was withdrawing from this agreement, which was unanimously approved by a UN Security Council resolution and was welcomed by all without exception countries in the world and international organisations as one of the most important steps on the way to strengthening the non-proliferation regime. This agreement was much broader than what was required for dealing with the Iranian problem. It was due to put a brake on and reverse the alarming trends in the non-proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction. The United States not only broke off its own commitments and grossly violated international law, but also arrogantly banned all other countries from complying with the JCPOA under the threat of sanctions. Thereby Washington – and this is the root of the problem – demanded that everyone do nothing of what was due to Iran under the JCPOA. Iran is urged to comply with all without exception terms, but in return they do not give anything.
The Europeans have volunteered to devise a mechanism that would make it possible to avoid these totally illegal and unlawful US sanctions. They were coordinating this matter for quite a long time. Eventually, they declared that this mechanism had been established. But it remains solely on paper.
We have the impression that the European countries, for various reasons, including, obviously, powerful pressure from Washington, would feel comfortable if they find a way to put all the responsibility for the existing situation squarely on Iran, while disregarding the original cause of the current crisis, which consists in the United States’ peremptory rupture of this agreement.
We note a striving on the part of the European leaders to find a way out of this predicament. I mean the initiative by President Emmanuel Macron of France and the position of the European foreign policy service that was the chief coordinator of the talks on the Iranian nuclear programme. But so far all these efforts are coming to nothing on account of the unwillingness of the US to take the brake off any attempts to find a way out of the crisis.
We will continue to press for the universal compliance with the JCPOA terms and will continue to perform our own obligations.
We are addressing this appeal to Iran, although we are well aware why Iran is reducing its commitments. It is reducing the level of commitments that are voluntary under the UN Security Council resolution and are directly linked with other countries’ commitments to ensure Iran’s legitimate economic interests. But let me note that Iran reduces its commitments after notifying the IAEA and in the presence of IAEA inspectors, while committing no violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Additional Protocol to the safeguards agreement.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise one fundamental point. Every time Iran announced the next reduction of its commitments, it stressed that its decision was reversible and that it would go back to complying with its JCPOA commitments as soon as others carried out what they were due to perform.