We touched on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to resolve the Iranian nuclear programme issue now that the United States has withdrawn from the agreement. China and Russia are convinced of the importance of maintaining this agreement. We confirmed the illegitimate nature of Washington’s unilateral anti-Iran sanctions aimed, in particular, at stopping oil exports from Iran. We also noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran remains committed to the JCPOA, but expects our European colleagues, who must fulfill their part of the agreements as well, to do the same.
Overall, our talks have once again revealed our mutual commitment to consolidating Russian-Chinese cooperation on a wide range of issues, including international affairs.
Once again, I thank my colleague for a substantive, friendly and professional discussion.
Question (translated from Chinese): Recently, the US has increased its pressure on Iran. Tehran also announced a reduction in its obligations under the JCPOA. The situation in Iran is fraught. What do you think Russia should do to resolve the crisis around the Iranian nuclear program?
Sergey Lavrov: I hope this question does not imply that only Russia should do something. Russia is just doing its share provided for by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In particular, in accordance with the agreed schedule, we are implementing the project to re-equip Iran’s Fordo facility for the production of stable isotopes. Far from all other participants do what they have promised to do. I’ll note that Iran’s announced “reduction” of its commitments mainly concerned the limits for its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water which may be located on Iranian territory at any given moment. On this point, I’ll note that the JCPOA contains very clear provisions, which say, firstly, that Iran’s commitments are voluntary. Secondly, Tehran has the right to suspend observance if other parties to the agreement do not fulfill their obligations. Unfortunately, what was announced in Tehran about Iranian oil exports reflects our European partners’ inability to fulfill their commitments as they had volunteered to develop a mechanism to bypass some of the illegitimate US sanctions on Iranian oil exports. The effort was announced, but failed to deliver. Moreover, as our European colleagues told us, at this stage, that mechanism should only be used (if at all) for the supply of humanitarian goods. This is not at all what Iran is counting on, in accordance with the JCPOA, which was approved by the UN Security Council resolution. This plan and this resolution, which is binding, were to ensure that Iran could freely supply its oil to world markets. Therefore, Russia will have to see that other participants in the deal, first of all, our European colleagues, fulfill their part of the agreement. There is simply no other way.
I know that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt are meeting in Brussels with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini today. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also set out for Brussels urgently, having canceled the Moscow part of his visit to Russia. I expect that the Europeans will stick to what the UN Security Council resolution approving the JCPOA says. I also have no doubt that they will be under tremendous pressure from Mr Pompeo to do the opposite. Tomorrow I will try to check with him how the Americans plan to overcome the crisis created by their unilateral decisions. I look forward to a frank conversation with my colleague tomorrow.