Russia rules out reopening talks on Iran’s nuclear agreement

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York on September 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has ruled out the idea of reopening negotiations on Iran’s nuclear deal amid US calls for abandoning or reconsidering the agreement.

"This program is already finalized and endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution. Opening up this plan for negotiations basically would be disregarding this agreement," Lavrov said at a Friday press conference at the UN General Assembly.

The remarks come as US President Donald Trump has threatened to declare Iran to be in violation of “the spirit” of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), over Tehran’s defensive missile program.

In his UN General Assembly speech on Tuesday, Trump called the nuclear accord as a one-sided “embarrassment” to the United States that he said his country may abandon.

"It is not only Russia that has said it is necessary to save the JCPOA. That was mentioned by all the European countries that participated in the negotiations," Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister argued that Trump’s concerns are beyond the scope of the nuclear agreement, noting that they should be addressed through a different channel.

"There are different kinds of concerns coming from many sides and these concerns should be addressed through the formats that are relevant for that.

"Bringing together apples and oranges would be wrong, especially in such complicated issues as the Iran nuclear deal," Lavrov pointed out.

In a Thursday interview with The New York Times, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed any re-negotiations of the 2015 nuclear deal, saying Washington seeks getting more Iranian concessions under the accord with no new concessions from itself or other signatories in return.

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A day earlier, Zarif had met with counterparts from the six other signatories to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York.

“Everybody, with one exception, said this is a good deal,” Zarif said, referring to his American opposite number Rex Tillerson’s position at the gathering.

Tillerson, himself, acknowledged at the Wednesday meeting that Iran was in “technical compliance” with the deal, and has said leaving the agreement would alienate Washington’s allies.

In mandatory reports to Congress, the Trump administration has twice so far certified Iran’s compliance with the agreement. It has threatened to “decertify” the Islamic Republic’s commitment in the third round.

During his election campaign, Trump had threatened to “tear up” the deal. Since taking office in January, a year after the deal took effect, Trump has, however, adopted a milder tone but has been actively looking for a pretext to launch a renegotiation of the accord or initiate an American withdrawal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s adherence to the terms of the JCPOA, while the other parties to the deal, along with the entire international community, have thrown their weight behind the accord, praising the Islamic Republic for its full commitment to its side of the bargain.

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