Russia: Vienna talks only meant to restore original JCPOA, Iran's missiles not included

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)
Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov speaks to journalists outside the 'Grand Hotel Wien' after the closed-door nuclear talks in the Austrian capital on June 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Russia’s lead negotiator at the Vienna talks on the revival of the Iran nuclear deal says the ongoing negotiations aim to restore the 2015 agreement in its original form, rejecting "unrealistic and counterproductive" attempts to include new topics such as regional security and Iran's missile program in those talks.

In a tweet on Monday, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, said some analysts and officials advocate for addressing new topics in the context of the Vienna talks which is "an attempt to hit 3 birds with 1 stone."

"In the context of #ViennaTalks some analysts and officials advocate for addressing new topics such as regional security and missiles. An attempt to hit 3 birds with 1 stone. Unrealistic and counterproductive. The agreed goal of the talks is just to restore the original #JCPOA," the senior Russian diplomat tweeted, referring to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was signed between Iran and major world powers in 2015, and was abandoned by the US three years after its conclusion.

Ulyanov added in another tweet later the same day that although his country “resolutely supports and advocates for regional security dialogue in the #PersianGulf,” this topic should not be mixed up with nuclear issues and the talks on the JCPOA

The US, under former President Donald Trump, left the JCPOA in 2018 and initiated a “maximum pressure” campaign of tough economic sanctions against Iran, prompting Tehran to take remedial measures by gradually reducing its nuclear commitments under the deal.

The remaining parties to the JCPOA -- France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China — have been engaged in talks since early April to bring the United States back into the deal.

On June 20, the sixth in-person round of the talks came to an end so that the negotiators would return to their capitals for further consultations, which turned out to be the longest break the diplomats have taken since the beginning of the negotiations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday commended “significant progress” made in the Vienna talks, urging the United States to completely and unconditionally renew all its obligations to return to the agreement.

Lavrov pointed to the main obstacles hindering the JCPOA revitalization and said, "If the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and thereby violated the UN Security Council Resolution [2231] in a gross manner, then, probably, the US return to the JCPOA presupposes a complete and unconditional renewal of all obligations."

In another tweet also on Monday, Ulyanov said the hiatus in the Vienna talks is longer than anticipated as Iran needs more time for preparation given its June 18 presidential election.

He added that calculations about the completion of the process by the 6th anniversary of the deal's conclusion (July 15) did not materialize.

Trump’s withdrawal was criticized by candidate Joe Biden, who defeated him in the November presidential election. Biden had promised to rejoin the JCPOA but the US is yet to take a concrete, verifiable step to that goal.

The talks have, however, dragged on, signaling that the US is still refusing to meet Tehran’s key conditions for it to return to the JCPOA.

No reasonable alternative to JCPOA: Russia Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also tweeted on Monday, saying there is no "reasonable alternative" to the JCPOA, warning that in the absence of the nuclear deal, "peace and security become more vulnerable."

"#JCPOA has no reasonable alternative. Without it, peace and security become more vulnerable," Zakharova said in her tweet.

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