MOSCOW, December 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia is worried by a possible delay in the implementation of the Geneva agreements on Iran, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“Unfortunately, the commencement of the first stage is delayed because the European Union has told us that these agreements have to be approved by all of the EU member states. The nearest possible date for that is December 16. On that day, I will have a meeting with all of the 28 EU ministers and Catherine Ashton [High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy] within the framework of the so-called Permanent Partnership Council,” Lavrov told Russia 24 television on Saturday, December 14.
“However, there are signs indicating that the EU will not be able to approve this package this time, and then everything will be delayed until January, that is, the start of the six-month implementation period for stage one will be put off for one more month. This worries us, and we will try to find out from our EU colleagues what ‘insurmountable obstacles’ have caused them to delay for many weeks the approval of the agreement that everyone hailed as a historic breakthrough and the implementation of which is wanted by everyone,” the minister said.
Speaking about the meaning of the Geneva agreements on Iran, Lavrov noted that they contained concrete steps Tehran should take in the next six months. “First of all, it has to suspend the operation of practically all facilities; it may not bring enrichment above 5 percent and must stop enrichment to a 20-percent concentration; and it should halt all work at the site where a heavy-water reactor is being built in Arak. There are also some other steps, including transparency, which will give IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors broader monitoring and verification powers,” Lavrov said.
In return, the world powers agreed to take measures aimed at easing the sanctions against Iran. “As the first step, they [the measures] should be taken by the countries that imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran bypassing the U.N. Security Council, primarily the United States and the European Union. All this should be done within six months. Some of Iran’s foreign assets, frozen under unilateral sanctions, will be unblocked,” the minister said.
“All this is stated in great detail and there is nothing to argue about,” he noted, adding, “There is no need to interpret these agreements broadly or narrowly.”
He believes that further work “should be conducted only collectively, as was agreed, and should focus on coordinating the final parameters of the Iranian peaceful nuclear program, including uranium enrichment parameters for fuel production, while resolving all of the IAEA questions and placing it [the program] under the Agency’s full and strict control,” Lavrov said.
“It is important that everything is done as agreed, without trying to interpret the agreement broadly or narrowly, and that consultations start in parallel on the terms of the final package that will dot all the ‘i’s and close the issue for good,” Lavrov said earlier this week.
He noted that ambitious deadlines had been set for settling the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, which Russia and Iran were determined to meet. He believes that this work should result in “the recognition of Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the right to peaceful enrichment of uranium, and in the resolution of all questions the IAEA has.”
“It is the general understanding that the Geneva document should be implemented conscientiously by all parties and we will press for that,” the minister said, adding that the agreements reached in Geneva should be fulfilled not only by Iran but also by the P5+1 countries that “introduced unilateral sanctions [against Iran] in circumvention of the U.N. Security Council.”
Lavrov noted the progress in relations between the IAEA and Iran. “IAEA inspectors are already carrying on their work in Iran, taking into account the agreements reached in Geneva. This process will be helped by a committee being created from representatives of the P5+1, Iran and the IAEA. It will certainly be helped by the active consultations now underway between Iran and the IAEA on the issues the Agency would like to clarify,” he said.
The minister reiterated that Russia was interested in cooperation with Iran in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy. “We can see similar interest on the part of Iran. We are aware of Iran’s plans to build additional power units similar to that in Bushehr,” Lavrov said, referring to light-water reactors that are “not prohibited by any of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Iran and the IAEA plan to agree the second package of practical measures for Tehran’s nuclear program at their next meeting on January 21, 2014. The second package will become operational from February 11, 2014 when the first one expires.
IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards Tero Varjoranta said that on January 21, 2014 Iranian and IAEA experts would start discussing those aspects of Tehran’s nuclear program that specialists refer to as a possible military component of research activities.
He said IAEA inspectors would visit the Gachin uranium mine in Iran before February 11, 2014. The bilateral agreement signed on November 11 requires such an inspection to be conducted within a three months’ time.
Varjoranta also said that Iran had so far lived up to the IAEA’s expectations regarding nuclear program verification cooperation in Iran.
He said work was going according to plan.