Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov’s Remarks and Replies to Media Questions at a Joint News Conference Following Talks with Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif (Excerpts)

January 26, 2021

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Ladies and gentlemen,

The talks with Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif were fact-based and trustful. We have worked with each other for quite some time. This helps in resolving many issues that must be reviewed and implemented under the agreements between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Iran Hassan Rouhani. They regularly communicate and discuss the entire range of bilateral relations, as well as current regional and international issues. Today, these issues were reviewed in detail, including our cooperation in trade, the economy, energy, agricultural, transport and industrial areas.

We spoke about cooperation in building new units at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant. We welcomed the efforts of our colleagues from the economic bloc of our governments to develop our comprehensive partnership.

We praised our humanitarian and interregional ties and noted our cooperation in countering the COVID-19 coronavirus. Our relevant agencies keep in contact. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) takes part in this cooperation on Russia’s behalf. Our Iranian friends reported that the fund’s partners in Tehran are ready to complete the consultations that will allow us to develop practical cooperation.

We signed the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in ensuring information security. It opens opportunities for us to coordinate our actions related to the growing importance of problems in cyberspace and the increasing impact on international relations and the situation in individual countries.

We discussed in detail the situation around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme. Our positions are identical. We are interested in its complete preservation. We are convinced that the way to this goal lies exclusively through the consistent, all-round implementation of the provisions of this major document by all involved parties in strict compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We hope the current efforts will produce a result and lead to the preservation of the JCPOA and that the US will resume full implementation of the said resolution. In turn, this will create conditions for observing the requirements of the nuclear deal by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The joint ministerial statement on the JCPOA (adopted on December 21, 2020) by the countries that remain parties to the plan shows how to move towards this goal.


Question (translated from Farsi): What do you think about Russia-Iran relations in the context of the current world situation, in part, the change of the US administration?

Sergey Lavrov: These are relations between friendly and close countries that are neighbours in the Caspian Sea area. We cooperate in numerous formats in addition to our bilateral agenda. We are developing our relations in the interests of the two states and our nations. In building our plans, we do not look back at any third party.

Naturally, the world situation is affecting our relations to the extent to which some of our Western colleagues are trying to limit our opportunities to develop mutually beneficial cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation. In our opinion, these are illegal attempts to abuse unilateral restrictions that are at variance with international law, and impart exterritorial character to their national laws. Under the circumstances, we have chosen forms of trade, economic and investment cooperation that will not depend on the whims of anyone who violates international law.

As for the current status in international life, including the change of the administration in Washington, we have heard many statements by the Joseph Biden team on foreign policy plans. One of them was the announcement of the new President’s intention to fully observe the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme.

If this takes place, we will only welcome it. The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation have emphasised more than once that all signatories to the JCPOA approved by the UN Security Council must resume the fulfilment of their commitments. If this happens (and we believe we will achieve this result), relations between our countries will only benefit because they will be spared the illegitimate and illegal unilateral sanctions of the US and many other countries.

Question (retranslated from Farsi): Iran took five steps to reduce its obligations under the JCPOA and announced that it had begun to enrich uranium metal, which is seen by many experts as a step towards developing weapons-grade plutonium. Is Iran ready to return to compliance with the JCPOA if the United States and other European participants in the JCPOA act accordingly? How will the IAEA international experts be admitted then?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Mohammad Javad Zarif): As we have said more than once (and reiterated during the talks today), we are concerned that Iran was forced not to comply with its voluntary obligations under the JCPOA. We are aware that systematic long-term non-compliance, even violation by the Trump administration, of its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which approved the JCPOA, lies at the root of the problem. The current situation is based not only on the systematic violation of this resolution by the United States itself, but also on the fact that Washington told other countries not to comply with it in the part that ensured unhindered trade and economic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. We understand that this lies at the root of the problem. We have worked persistently and continue to work with the European participants in the JCPOA, who clearly were unwilling to “fall out” with the United States. Many in the United States and elsewhere wanted to tighten the noose of sanctions on Iran.

We have heard many times that former US President Donald Trump was the first among his numerous predecessors in office not to start a war. Many people in the Trump administration and abroad wanted to use the US withdrawal from the JCPOA to provoke Iran and start another war in response, and thereby prevent the Trump administration from becoming such an exception. Perhaps, there are still many people who are willing to do so now. We are doing our best to ensure that, based on the statements by President Biden and his staff about their willingness to return to the JCPOA, all of us, including Iran, the EU and the People's Republic of China, find concrete ways to have all JCPOA participants fulfill their obligations in full. By doing so, we would return this greatest achievement in nonproliferation to the “treasure trove” of international diplomacy and knock the trump cards out of the hands of those who wanted to push this situation to the limit and bring it to a “hot” stage. Russia will do whatever it takes to prevent such a scenario from materialising. I’m sure this meets the interests of Iran, all countries in the region and, ultimately, Europe and the entire West, including the United States.