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Lavrov: Iran, Russia reject US attempt to extend arms ban against Tehran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov hold a joint press conference following their talks in Moscow on September 24, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Russia’s foreign minister says his country and Iran roundly reject an underway effort by the US to “permanently” extend an arms embargo against the Islamic Republic that will legally expire next month.

"We discussed in detail the situation surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Lavrov said at a joint press conference that followed a meeting with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Moscow on Thursday Russia's Sputnik news agency reported.

“We stressed that Moscow and Tehran, like the entire international community, categorically reject US ambitions to impose some kind of indefinite arms embargo," the Russian top diplomat added.

The ban on sales of conventional weapons to Iran is set to expire on October 18 under the JCPOA, a nuclear agreement that was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of states -- the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany -- in Vienna in 2015.

The US left the deal in 2018, thus losing all of its right to invoke its provisions, including a snapback mechanism that enables re-imposition of the United Nations sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

On Saturday, though, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that "virtually all UN sanctions have returned on Iran," including "a permanent extension of the arms embargo." “We will not hesitate to enforce our sanctions, and we expect all UN Member States to fully comply with their obligations under these re-imposed restrictions,” he added.

This is while, 13 of the UN Security Council’s 15-strong members, including Russia and China, have notified the US that they would not fall into line with the US’ snapback bid, reminding that Washington’s departure from the JCPOA has caused it to lose its contractual rights.

"We have heard the US statement that, despite the will of the entire international community, they will proceed from the premise that the United Nations Security Council's sanctions against Iran would be restored at Washington's whim. These attempts using illegal means have no prospect of succeeding," Lavrov added.

"We agreed to continue the implementation of major joint investment projects, first and foremost in the sphere of energy, including nuclear power, as well as transportation and industrial cooperation," the Russian foreign minister stressed concerning underway cooperation between Iran and Russia.

He also announced that the Russian-Iranian Joint Economic Commission would be meeting before the end of the year in line with the two countries’ common will to expand their relations.

For his part, Zarif, who is in the Russian capital to discuss with Russian officials issues of common interest as well as important regional and international matters, expressed gratitude towards Moscow and Beijing for their “playing an important role in confronting the US’ illegal efforts at the Security Council.”

Russia would take over the Council’s chairmanship on October 10, he noted, hoping that Moscow’s “effective role” in standing up to Washington’s campaign would sustain under the period too.

Zarif also hailed his talks with Lavrov as “good and constructive” and emphasized that the countries were “taking diligent efforts to boost their relations.”

“We enjoy cooperation in various areas, and hope to expand these instances of collaboration,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

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