Europe decided to talk to Moscow about Ukraine through Tehran. According to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, during the talks in Moscow, he conveyed to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov a message from one of the leaders of European countries regarding the situation in Ukraine. For his part, the Russian Foreign Minister expressed the hope that the West would not consider Tehran’s mediation as a precondition, without which it would not agree to the restoration of the Iranian “nuclear deal”. However, the two ministers had something to discuss besides the Ukrainian crisis. First of all, expanding cooperation under Western sanctions.
“During today’s talks, we conveyed a message regarding the situation in Ukraine from one of the leaders of European countries at his request, with which he addressed our President, Mr. Raisi. There were ideas about promoting peace and tranquility, as well as ending hostilities in Ukraine. And we discussed these ideas with Mr. Lavrov,” with these words, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian began his speech at a press conference following the talks with Sergey Lavrov held in Moscow on Wednesday. an attempt to resolve the crisis around Ukraine was the main goal of his visit to Moscow. “Some of the Western countries want Tehran to play an active role in this issue,” he said. Iranian news agency ISNA reported on Wednesday that the Western leader who approached Ebrahim Raisi was French President Emmanuel Macron.
Last public contact between French and Iran took place on July 23, just a few days after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran. According to the communication of the Elysee Palace, in addition to the discussion around the return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and other topics, they also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, including its consequences with in terms of energy and food security. At that time, Mr. Macron had not spoken on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin for two months (since May 28), while Mr. Raisi had a chance to meet with the Russian leader in person.
Telephone contacts between them resumed only on 19 August. That is, almost a month after Emmanuel Macron phoned Ebrahim Raisi. Against this background, it is not clear when the French president, if it was really him, could ask Tehran for mediation. If during a pause in contacts with the Kremlin, then why did it take so long for Iran to carry out the instructions, and if recently, then why, given the continuation of a direct dialogue between the presidents of the Russian Federation and France. Apparently, Moscow is also perplexed.
“Now Mr. Minister mentioned in his opening speech that some European leaders are asking him to concentrate on the Ukrainian issue, asking him to deliver certain messages. I hope that this is not a new precondition that some European leaders may put forward and put in the way of concluding a JCPOA,” Sergei Lavrov told reporters. This was his only reaction to the Iranian colleague’s words about mediation.
But for the Iranian minister, this topic was obviously important, and not only in the context of mediation. Since February 24, Tehran has repeatedly offered its services in the dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv, however, few people have taken it seriously until now, in contrast to the mediation efforts of Turkey.
“Islamic Republic of Iran, which is one of the main players in the peaceful use of the atom, is ready to provide any assistance to establish calm and peace at this nuclear power plant, as well as in the surrounding area,” he said. Although, it would seem that Iran should not get involved in this topic, given its difficult relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and how many times Tehran needed Russia‘s support in its nuclear affairs. So it is not surprising that Sergei Lavrov kept silent. At least in public. However, this did not prevent him, in turn, from assuring that Moscow fully shares the Iranian position in everything related to the “nuclear deal”, the fate of which should be decided in the coming days.
Recall that the JCPOA was signed Iran in 2015, along with five members of the UN Security Council and Germany. It was about lifting sanctions from Tehran in exchange for limiting Iran’s nuclear program. Three years later, the United States withdrew from the deal, in response, Iran also abandoned part of its obligations. After the administration of President Joe Biden came to the White House, Washington decided to try to return to the JCPOA. Indirect consultations on this topic between all participants in the “nuclear deal” began last spring in Vienna. In August, based on consultations with all the signatories of the JCPOA, the EU formulated a compromise plan. Iran first presented its comments to it, and then the United States. Now it is the turn of the Iranians to study the comments of the American side again.
Tehran has repeatedly stated that it wants to be sure that Washington will not break the deal again. “We still need a more powerful text on the issue of guarantees,” the Iranian Foreign Minister explained, answering questions from journalists in Moscow. In addition, Iran believes that the IAEA should disregard any politicized point of view and promise that it will not bring “unfounded accusations” against Tehran after the JCPOA is restored. We are talking about the IAEA investigation into the origin of traces of uranium at three Iranian nuclear facilities. The agency does not intend to stop the investigation, although it concerns Iran’s nuclear activities in the early 2000s.
In addition to Ukraine and the JCPOA, the two ministers discussed the conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, as well as the situation in Iraq and Transcaucasia. The main attention was paid to the development of bilateral cooperation in the context of Western sanctions. The cessation of contacts between Moscow and the West spurred Russia to intensify ties with the countries of the East, including Iran.
“We are satisfied with the way our bilateral relations are developing, they are reaching a new qualitative level, which will be fixed in a large interstate agreement, work on this document is now at the final stage,” Sergey Lavrov said . He also added that in parallel, work is underway on a document on long-term cooperation in the field of the economy and on the corresponding road map. The ministers made it clear that they discussed all aspects of bilateral relations, from fisheries to security. The only question that has remained open, although it is in the center of world media attention, is Washington’s claims that Iran has allegedly begun supplying its drones to Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in advance that this issue was not discussed at the meeting of the presidents of Russia and Iran in July and they do not plan to raise it at ministerial talks in Moscow. In Russia, this topic is called stuffing Western media. Tehran also denied information about the deliveries back in July. And at the press conference of the foreign ministers on Wednesday, this issue was not raised at all.