Question: Is Russia disappointed by the new administration of Cyril Ramaphosa declining to move ahead on the nuclear deal with ROSATOM? That was something President Putin raised at the BRICS Summit earlier this year in Johannesburg. Can you give us Russia’s position on this deal?
And also there have been some reports that Russia is trying to lure hundreds, if not thousands of disgruntled farmers over the land question. The land question is a very big topic in South Africa. Are you trying to lure some of those farmers to Russia?
Sergey Lavrov: I didn’t understand what you said about the farmers. What was that?
Question: There is a policy of land expropriation in South Africa that they are implementing. This is a parliamentary process. People could lose their farms without compensation. There is talk that Russia is trying to take the gap, if you will, and lure some of those disgruntled farmers to Russia.
Sergey Lavrov: No. Now we are busy with meddling into the elections in Catalonia. No time for this, you know, and too far.
As for the nuclear power station, any deal depends on the readiness of both sides to agree on the format of the deal, on the availability of resources, and so on. This rethinking started before the current president became president. If the government of South Africa found out, as it was looking into the project, that it needed some time, and some more analysis of the situation, it is their sovereign right, and we always respect the rights of our partners.
Question (translated from English): Russia said it will do everything within its power to protect JCPOA. Does this include creating a system for purchasing Iranian oil? Do Russia and China have plans for Iranian oil bypassing US sanctions?
The US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley accuses Russia of trying to ease sanctions against North Korea to extend the Trans-Siberian railway to South and North Korea. Would you like to comment on this?
Sergey Lavrov: My answer is very simple – this is something both Koreas want. If our American colleagues’ words about wanting prosperity for the North and, naturally, South Korea, are sincere, they should not have any problem here with the proposal that we made, which was discussed for a long time between us, Seoul and Pyongyang. It is to benefit the development of infrastructure in Northeast Asia, to serve the interests of all those who trade between Asia and Europe. This will be one of the shortest and most effective trade transit routes.
Answering the question on Iran, I must remind you that on July 6, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, China and Russia – as well as Iran – held a Joint Commission meeting chaired by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, where the European parties to the deal took the initiative to form ad hoc consultative mechanisms, which would consider how to continue to provide the economic benefits that are due to Iran in accordance with the 2015 agreement, and prevent any outside parties from influencing the arrangements to be developed in financial, banking and other sectors.
We met in the same format on September 24 and the Europeans confirmed that the work is underway, and our experts are also involved in it. I can see good opportunities here, unless our European colleagues resort to the excuse that their companies do not want to work in Iran. This would be a big mistake. I hope neither of us will step aside and shrug, well, businesses do not want to, we cannot force them. Such words are already being said, and some companies, including European ones, are leaving Iran. But others are filling their places. Europeans are aware how easy it is to lose the market, and how difficult it would be to return. This is not politics. It is a commitment to what was agreed. In our country, a bargain is a bargain, especially when that bargain is put on paper and sealed by the UN Security Council decisions.
As for the use of national currencies in payments, so as not to depend too much on the US dollar, this idea has long been implemented and put into practice in our relations with China and several other countries, as well as between countries that are partners but are third parties in relation to Russia. This is only natural. Our Western friends are reluctant to mention international law, but prefer talking about a rules based order. One of the rules, one of the pillars of that order was the dollar system, which was guaranteed by the United States. As soon as the United States began to abuse the position of the dollar in the global monetary and financial system, all countries that are at least a little concerned about their future began to look for ways to avoid such dependence. So this process will go on and will ultimately weaken the United States and its impact on the global economy.
Speaking about the barter system in the Iranian oil trade, as our European colleagues have proposed, we are discussing all the ways and possibilities of ensuring that Iran received what it was promised by the UN Security Council.