MOSCOW, September 2. /TASS/. Moscow would like to have Tehran’s opinion of the international community’s efforts for preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his opening remarks at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Moscow on Monday.
"We would like to have your opinion of the latest events over the JCPOA," he said. "We’ve kept a close watch on the actions being taken and we will welcome them, if they pave the way out of the impasse and restore the normal operation of the JCPOA."
The future of the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program concluded in 2015 was called in question following the United States’ unilateral pullout on May 8, 2018 and the introduction of oil export sanctions against Iran. On May 8, 2019 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Tehran was pausing some of its obligations under the nuclear deal and set a 60-day deadline for the other partakers to resume compliance with the deal. On July 7, Tehran proceeded with the second phase of suspending its participation in the deal to declare uranium enrichment above 3.67% level and warned it would reduce its commitments each 60 days if other participants refused to adhere to the achieved agreements.
France's proposal to preserve the JCPOA
The initiatives proposed by France to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program should remain in the framework of the nuclear deal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a joint press conference with his Iranian colleague Mohammad Javad Zarif.
"A few weeks ago, when [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin paid a visit to France at the invitation of [French] President [Emmanuel] Macron, they had an extensive conversation. President Macron mentioned the efforts undertaken by him personally and France to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action both face-to-face and at the delegation level. President Putin supported the determination of the French leader if this initiative aims to fully implement the JCPOA without any appendices or omissions," he said.
"Any extra ideas that can emerge in this regard should be discussed separately, irrespective of the JCPOA obligations of all the parties. We are hoping that this useful initiative of the president will bear fruit," Lavrov added. He also expressed appreciation to his Iranian colleagues "for detailed confidential information and their assessment of how far along this process has gone now."
Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program exacerbated after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018 and slapped US economic sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. A year later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran was scaling back some of its commitments under the JCPOA and called on other signatories to the deal to comply with the conditions of the agreement within two months. The JCPOA was signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Russia, the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France) and Germany in 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 for abandonment of the sanctions imposed previously by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the United States over its nuclear program.
When the US withdrew from the deal, other parties to it voiced their support for the preservation of the JCPOA. The EU proposed creating a special-purpose vehicle for carrying out transactions with Iran, INSTEX. However, so far only its pilot version could be launched, while the vehicle does not cover oil transactions.
In this context, the French president laid out the proposal to bring Iran back into compliance with the JCPOA to his US counterpart Donald Trump. The proposal envisages that Tehran should be allowed to sell a certain amount of oil in exchange for a number of serious obligations. Later, Iranian diplomatic sources told Bloomberg that Tehran would like to obtain a permit to export at least 700,000 barrels of oil, while consequently the trading volume should reach 1.5 million barrels if the Western countries intend to negotiate preservation of the nuclear deal with Iran. Also under the proposed plan Tehran would have to resume compliance with the JCPOA, devise ways of easing tensions in the Persian Gulf and resume constructive talks over the development of missiles, regional problems and a plan for a period after 2025, when the nuclear deal’s term of operation will expire.