Relaunching the original 2015 deal is the only ‘reasonable’ way, the Russian Foreign Ministry says
Any “plan B” in talks on Iran’s nuclear program would violate a “consensual decision” of the UN Security Council on the issue and have “unavoidable negative consequences” for the entire Middle East, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Thursday.
“Every departure [from the original 2015 deal] or “plans B” that some like to speculate on would go against the consensus decisions of the [UN] Security Council,” said Ivan Nechaev, the ministry’s deputy spokesman, referring to a 2015 UNSC resolution backing that year’s deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
The relaunch of the existing 2015 agreement through the ongoing talks in Vienna is the only “reasonable and effective means” before, Nechaev told reporters during a briefing. He also welcomed the latest round of indirect talks between the US and Iranian delegations in Vienna, which resulted in some “progress” on issues that had previously been a stumbling block in the negotiations.
“A positive outcome of the talks is… achievable,” Nechaev said, adding that “There are no irreconcilable differences between the parties. Further progress would depend solely on the “political will” of each party said the diplomat.
At the same time, Moscow criticized the EU for what it called bullying tactics. “The language of ultimatums does not work in such a sensitive and high-stakes file”, Nechaev was particularly critical of Peter Stano, spokesman for European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Earlier this week, Stano told reporters that “everything that could be negotiated was integrated into the final version of the text” compiled after the last round of talks between Tehran and Washington, which was brokered by the EU. “It’s yes or no” Stano insisted, adding that “there is no more room for other compromises.” Borrell himself also called the document “the final text” at this moment.
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry responded by saying Stano had no authority to make such statements on behalf of all parties involved in the talks. The Iran agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was built on “carefully measured balance of interests” and not “gross political pressure”, he added.
The work of reviving the agreement will only end “when the interests of all parties involved are properly taken into account”, Nechaev told reporters on Thursday.
Last week, Washington said it had worked out a proposal for a mutual return to the nuclear deal with Iran. Tehran responded by saying that reviving the deal lay primarily with the United States. “will be” and that Washington must show it is ready for a long-term result.
Western media also ran stories calling on Washington and Brussels to come up with a “plan B” that could be used if the Vienna negotiations yield no results. Some of the pieces openly called on Western governments to abandon talks in favor of this option, which apparently has not yet been conceived. “Enough of the ‘tenuous’ nuclear deal with Iran – it’s time for plan B”, read an opinion piece from The Hill published in early July. “Biden should show Iran what ‘plan B’ looks like” another article published by the Washington Post in mid-June suggested so.
The agreement signed in 2015 by Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany – as well as Russia, China and the EU – involved Tehran agreeing to certain restrictions on its nuclear industry in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions and other incentives.
The deal has been in limbo since 2018, when it was torpedoed by the United States under then-President Donald Trump, who unilaterally pulled out. In response, Iran began to gradually reduce its commitments under the deal, such as the level of enriched uranium it produces.
On August 1, Tehran announced that it had “the technical ability to build an atomic bomb”, adding, however, that such a program “not on the agenda”