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Foreign Ministry doubts meeting on Iran nuclear deal may yield breakthrough solution

MOSCOW, June 27. /TASS/. Russia will spare no effort to see to it see to it that the meeting of the Joint Commission on the Iran nuclear deal yield a comprehensive positive result, but it doubts that it is possible, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

"It is an open question how receptive the colleagues will be to our calls and concrete proposals," he said. "I don’t think it would be right to say that we have a feeling that the event would yield a comprehensive positive result but we will spare no effort to make it happen."

According to the senior Russian diplomat, it takes more and more effort to keep the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in place. "Questions are piling up, solutions are insufficient. We have only some ideas," he said. "Regrettably, we see, on the one hand, certain nervousness, including among the Europeans, and, on the other hand, we see that some of our colleagues are seeking to place all the responsibility for what in going on on Iran."

He said that Friday’s meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA should "focus on the substantive aspects, the more so as a number of the JCPOA elements that are on the implementation stage require heightened attention to be protected from negative effects stemming from the American sanctions."

"This is the constructive agenda we are offering and will be working on hoping that our colleagues will ultimately show understanding to it," Ryabkov said, adding that he planned to once again say at the commission’s meeting that Russia understood the reasons why Iran had embarked on a path of gradual reduction of its liabilities under the deal.

"But, nevertheless, we believe that this path of escalation may ultimately ruin the entire deal and in this case it would be impossible to implement any ideas on how to keep the JCPOA in place," he stressed. "That is why all the parties must now show restraint. It concerns both the situation on the ground, i.e. in the Gulf region, and the political aspects of the entire thing."

When asked whether there is a hope to talk Iran against making another step towards reduction of its commitments under the deal in early July, Ryabkov noted that the time for bargaining has gone and now only concrete proposals are welcome to compensate for Iran’s losses from the US sanctions.

"The question is not in dissuading Iran because the time for exhortations and verbal exercises has gone," he said. "We have been doing that for a year after the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA. We have been calling on the European partners to invigorate their efforts to create the INSTEX payment mechanism and adjust it so that it yields real results from the point of view of Iran’s needs. But it was all in vain."

"Now, we don’t need calls and persuasions, we need a concrete plan of actions that could be, first, realistic, and second, persuade the Iranian side that there is a chance to make progress without implementation of the plan under the less-for-less policy that may include very serious steps fraught with the collapse of the JCPOA," Ryabkov noted.

He also said he planned to hold a series of bilateral consultations on the situation around the Iran nuclear deal ahead of the commission’s meeting. "We will speak with the Iranians, with the European External Action Service. We plan a contact with the Chinese colleagues. Naturally, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a partner for dialogue. We hope to use this day for these contacts," he added.

The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will gather for a meeting in Vienna on June 28.

Situation around JCPOA

The JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, was signed between Iran and six international mediators (the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, the United States, and France) in July 2015. Under the deal, Iran undertook to curb its nuclear activities and place them under total control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange of abandonment of the sanctions imposed previously by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the United States over its nuclear program.

On May 8, 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed economic sanctions seeking to stop Iranian oil exports.

On May 8, 2019, or exactly a year after the United States’ withdrawal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared he was suspending some of Iran’s obligations under the JCPOA. In particular, he said that Tehran would resume uranium enrichment and terminate the conversion of the heavy water reactor at Arak, if the signatories to the deal fail to comply with the conditions of the agreement, including those concerning banking and oil trade, within a 60-day deadline.