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Iran nuclear deal likely to be fully destroyed in foreseeable future: Russia envoy

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 Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov (file photo)

A senior Russian diplomat says a 2015 nuclear agreement Iran clinched with major world powers could be completely destroyed in foreseeable future, stressing the importance of finding a solution to solve the existing situation.

"It is necessary to somehow find a way out of the situation since there is quite a real prospect of full destruction of the deal in foreseeable future," Russian Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said at a Moscow-Vienna video conference on Friday on the results of the 63rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He added that Iran is most likely to take the fourth step in scaling back its commitments under the nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in November.

"It will proceed like this until the moment Iran gets what it wants, in other words, the restoration of the balance within the framework of the nuclear deal between nuclear and economic commitments. This balance is now totally upset as a result of obstructionist policies by the overseas partners," the Russian diplomat said.

He added that Moscow reacted to Iran's measures to reduce its commitments "without enthusiasm, but with understanding" and noted that Tehran continued to patiently and completely complied with everything for a whole year as verified by the IAEA following the United States’ pullout from the nuclear deal.

Iran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. 

As a third and final step in its reduction of commitments, Iran activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes after the Europeans failed to work within a 60-day deadline to meet Iran’s demands and fulfill their commitments under the multilateral deal.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday that the remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal have expressed their commitment to preserving the agreement, which US President Donald Trump left in May 2018, stressing, however, that there are increasing difficulties ahead.

"It is in the interests of all to remain committed to the deal, but it is becoming increasing difficult," Mogherini told reporters after a meeting of the parties at the United Nations.

In a meeting with the visiting acting head of the IAEA, Cornel Feruta, in Tehran earlier this month, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the three steps taken by the Islamic Republic to reduce its commitments under the JCPOA are legitimate and allowed under the agreement.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei also said on Thursday Iran should no longer put its trust in the Europeans as they fulfilled none of their 11 commitments under the nuclear deal following Washington's withdrawal.

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The Russian official on Friday criticized as "meaningless" the US bans on top Iranian politicians, saying such restrictions are reducing the chances for settling the crisis around the nuclear deal.

Trump on Wednesday authorized the State Department to put a travel ban on top Iranian officials and their families over baseless “terrorism” charges.

Trump is a stern critic of the nuclear accord, which was clinched in 2015 by Iran and major world powers -- the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

The Trump administration unleashed what he has described as the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic following Washington’s withdrawal in defiance of global criticism in a bid to strangle the country’s oil trade.

The Russian diplomat also said if a solution to the ongoing dispute over the nuclear deal is not achieved within months, the situation will continue to exacerbate.

He added that questions about Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons are "absolutely irrelevant" for now because the UN nuclear agency is capable effectively enough of verifying Tehran's compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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