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MOSCOW, January 16. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. Russia and Iran are negotiating the intensification of economic co-operation, including the conclusion of a commercial oil deal that would make Russia the largest importer of Iranian oil, the Kommersant daily writes on Thursday with reference to a source in the Russian government. The source says, “It is not a simple barter — the deal provides for the use of finances,” and “the date of its conclusion does not depend on the lifting of Western sanctions on Iran, as Moscow had not endorsed them.”
A Russian diplomatic source told the newspaper that Moscow intended to continue negotiations with Iran on this matter, even despite Washington’s objections. The source confirmed to Kommersant that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had discussed this issue. According to him, the American side was told, “Russia has the right to purchase any amounts of oil from Iran, and Tehran — Russian-made goods.” “Russia thus does not violate any sanctions (Moscow recognizes only sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, and regards Western unilateral restrictions as illegitimate) and has no obligation to co-ordinate such projects with anybody,” said the Kommersant source. “We had once considered the concern of a number of countries over military-technical cooperation with Iran (refusing from the delivery of the S-300 missile systems to it), but it’s completely another story and the Americans have nothing to do with it.”
Radzhab Safarov, director of the Moscow-based Centre of Modern Iranian Studies, believes, however, that if Russia waits until all the sanctions are lifted, Western countries would occupy the Iranian market. “If Iran restores relations with the West, first of all, with the United States, it would be much more difficult for Moscow to develop economic relations with it,” the expert told the newspaper. “But this has not happened so far, and the situation is favorable: Iran needs money, goods and technology, which means that Russia has a unique opportunity to make use of its political advantage for the strengthening of economic relations with Tehran.”
Viktor Melnikov, chairperson of the Russian-Iranian Business Council (RIBC) at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RF CCI), also supports such a deal between Moscow and Tehran. “The sale of Iranian products, in particular, oil, to Russia, will give Tehran money to pay for Russian exports to Iran — this is a win-win situation,” he said, adding, “Russia is interested in increasing the exports of a number of commodity items to Iran — ferrous metal, grain, vegetable oil, mechanical equipment and innovative business products.
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