Sunday, February 5, 2023

Russia says alleged Iran weapons delivery pretext to stop nuclear talks

A Russian diplomat says the claim that Tehran has supplied Moscow with drones for the Ukraine war is a "clumsy excuse" for freezing the nuclear negotiations aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Alleged supplies of drones is a clumsy excuse for freezing (if not killing) the Vienna Talks on JCPOA,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations, tweeted on Friday.

The remarks came in response to a report by Al-Monitor which had quoted unnamed US and EU officials as blaming Iran for the failure of the talks on the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Looks like the US + E3 have a temptation to move to ‘Plan B’. Big mistake. It’s difficult to expect that such a plan can be a credible option. More likely just a non-starter,” added the Russian diplomat.

The remarks come as negotiations, which started in April last year in Vienna, remain stalled since August as Washington refuses to remove sanctions that were slapped on the Islamic Republic by the previous US administration of Donald Trump.

This is while after taking office, the Biden administration had criticized his predecessor’s decision to scrap the landmark agreement and vowed to reverse the measure.

On the contrary, the Joe Biden administration officials have upped the so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran and on several occasions announced that the talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal are no longer their main focus.

Observers believe Washington is trying to use these baseless accusations against Iran to gain leverage in talks and negotiate from a position of strength.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated on Wednesday that the revival of the JCPOA is not on the agenda of Washington.

“The JCPOA hasn’t been on the agenda for some months now,” he said, adding, “right now our focus is on the protests, our focus is on what Iran is providing to Russia and what in turn Russia is doing with those materials and wares to the people of Ukraine.”

Tehran has repeatedly rejected reports of drone delivery to Russia for the Ukraine war while condemning the US and other Western countries for stoking the deadly unrest in the country with “interventionist remarks”.

Iran’s intelligence bodies have found footprints of American and other Western spy agencies in recent violent riots inside Iran which erupted following the death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in mid-September.

Iran has demanded that the United States provide assurances that it would not leave the JCPOA again before it could reenter the agreement. Washington has refused to give a legally enforceable guarantee, leaving Tehran suspicious of the Biden administration’s seriousness in the talks.

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