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Russia says no alternative to JCPOA, calls for lifting sanctions on Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdoulahian hold a joint press conference following their talks in Moscow on March 29, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Russia’s foreign minister has called on the United States to lift sanctions on Iran and return to the 2015 nuclear deal while emphasizing that there is no alternative to the agreement reached between Iran and the world powers in 2015.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remarks on Wednesday in a joint press conference with his visiting Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Moscow.

"We talked about the situation around the JCPOA on the Iranian nuclear program. We have a common understanding that there is no alternative to this international agreement, which was written down in the unanimously adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” stressed Lavrov.

Washington needs to lift anti-Iranian sanctions, he said, noting that the world awaits Washington’s return to its obligations under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in May 2018 and imposed severe economic sanctions on Tehran in what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign.

In May 2019, following a year of strategic patience, Iran decided to let go of some of the restrictions on its nuclear energy program, resorting to its legal rights under the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by the other side.

Negotiations between the parties to the nuclear deal kicked off in Vienna in April 2021 with the intention of bringing the US back into the agreement and putting an end to the sanctions.

The discussions, however, have been at a standstill since August 2022 due to Washington’s insistence on not lifting all of the anti-Iran sanctions and its failure to offer the necessary guarantees that it will not exit the agreement again.

On Tuesday, Amir-Abdollahian warned the United States and three European parties of the deal that the window of opportunity to revive the agreement will not remain open forever.

Speaking in an interview with Al Jazeera news network on Monday, Amir-Abdollahian said Iranian lawmakers seek to approve a plan which sets limitations to the negotiations to salvage the deal.

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