Iran and Russia discuss ties, the Middle East, and nuclear deal

FM Lavrov says Russia shares Iran’s stance on reviving the nuclear deal and believes any potential additional agreements dealing with the region need to be reached separately.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Tehran on Tuesday [Russian foreign ministry via Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Iran and Russia have held high-level talks on bilateral ties, the region, and Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers during Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Tehran on Tuesday.

In a meeting with Lavrov, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran wishes to expand regional cooperation with Russia on Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions.

He also called for more defence and military cooperation, especially as a United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Iran ended in October 2020.

“Opening the Zionist regime’s foothold to the Persian Gulf region as a destabilising and tension-creating element will be a dangerous act,” Rouhani said of Israel, which Iran has accused of orchestrating “nuclear terrorism” on its facilities at Natanz on Sunday.

The president further said Iran and Russia should also boost bilateral economic activity, especially using private companies, in the oil, energy, transportation, and nuclear sectors.

He called on Russia to accelerate the process of delivering more doses of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 to Iran and said Iran is eager to finalise a plan to establish a joint vaccine manufacturing line with Russia.

Iran has so far received more than half a million doses of the vaccine, and has had difficulty in administering it as the first and second doses of Sputnik V – that need to be injected 21 days apart – are different.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, was also a main topic of talks as multilateral talks in Vienna to restore the deal the US abandoned in 2018 will continue on Wednesday.

Rouhani said Iran wants conditions of the landmark accord to be restored to what they were in 2015 when it was originally signed.

“We are neither willing to accept anything less nor wish to achieve anything more,” the president said.

Lavrov told Rouhani that Russia is of the same opinion as Iran on the fact the US must come back into full compliance with the JCPOA, and that trying to add new conditions to the deal would not be acceptable, according to the president’s website.

“Any complementary or additional documents on different issues, including regional issues or military development, can be considered outside the framework of the JCPOA and with the participation of regional countries in order to ensure the safety of the region and the Persian Gulf,” he was quoted as saying.

The Russian foreign minister welcomed boosting bilateral ties with Iran, saying “there are no limitations” on developing technical and defence relations.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lavrov signed a “cultural cooperation agreement” with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, the specific details of which have yet to be disclosed.

The two countries were also expected to discuss the renewal of their comprehensive cooperation accord, which was originally signed in 2001. Iranian officials had previously said if neither of the two sides has any objections, the accord will automatically renew for another five years.

In a late January trip to Moscow, Zarif had also signed an “information security” cooperation agreement with Russia that the Iranian foreign ministry called a turning point in joint cybersecurity work.

Source: Al Jazeera