Question: Moscow is urging its European partners to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran. What has been done to save it? Did you discuss measures to stabilise the situation at the informal talks today?
Sergey Lavrov: The OSCE is not a suitable platform for discussing Iran’s nuclear programme. This should be done at the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that comprises countries-signatories to the plan. It has met recently at the level of political directors. There has been a proposal to hold a meeting at the level of foreign ministers. We are ready for this provided practical agreements are reached for discussion at such a meeting. This does not seem to be the case so far.
Of course, we have no interest in aggravating the situation with Iran and in the region as a whole. We hope Iran will show restraint. But we cannot turn a blind eye to objective facts. It is a fact that Iran has started enriching uranium to above the 3.67 per cent limit specified in the nuclear deal. It has reached the 5 per cent level and will likely strive for more, but this will not put it in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA Safeguards Agreement or the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement. We must take this into account when considering the present situation. Any additional commitments Iran assumed under the JCPOA should be discussed at the Joint Commission. The commission has the authority for this in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution on the JCPOA.
The situation is paradoxical. The United States has pulled out of the JCPOA and does not comply with the UNSC resolution, but at the same time it prohibits the other parties to honour this resolution while pointing the finger at Iran.
One more thing: when the White House and the State Department demand that Iran honour its commitments under the JCPOA, and when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands, as he did the day before yesterday, that the EU punish Iran for violating the JCPOA, this logically implies that the United States and Israel should recognise the legitimacy of the JCPOA. However, they recognise its legitimacy only in the current situation, when problems with the JCPOA can be used to mount pressure on Iran.
It is not a wise approach. We are in favour of a search for solutions. We know very well who stands behind aggravating the confrontation. So far, there has been no investigation into the provocation concerning oil tankers. We do not see any way out of this situation other than demanding that all JCPOA signatories resume compliance with their commitments and the basic principles of the JCPOA. I do not see any other way. If our American colleagues or any others, for example Israel, have questions for Iran about its missile programme (they say they do have these questions), or Iran’s policy in the region, these are negotiable subjects. When we worked on the JCPOA, we insisted that it stipulate the need for a dialogue on regional matters. Nobody seems to remember this now. We should not destroy what took so long to create and what has made a huge contribution to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime. We must safeguard this achievement, and any other questions that arise should be addressed collectively on the basis of mutual respect.