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  • Position : Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Affiliation : Russian Foreign Ministry
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Sergey Ryabkov gave the Security Index an interview on Iranian nuclear negotiations

03.07.2015

MOSCOW, JULY 6, 2015. PIR PRESS – “A rather complex plan of action has been elaborated and approved, defining the steps to be taken after the signing of agreement.  It sets out the timelines and conditions for treaty to become operational, defines what should be considered the day of implementation of the agreement, etc. This framework, this “Christmas tree,” is further decorated with specific “candies, mandarins and chocolate rabbits.” Iranians are still discussing their volume, size, and number with all the parties,” – Sergey Ryabkov Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.

On July 3, 2015, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov gave an interview to the Editor-in-Chief of the Security Index journal Olga Mostinskaya. In the interview Deputy Minister, who have just returned from Vienna, talked about Iranian nuclear talks and the issues remaining unsolved.  

Security Index: The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 do not include the issue of unilateral US and EU sanctions, which the Iranian side is discussing directly with Washington and Brussels.  Do these tracks intersect, and how do they influence each other?

Sergey Ryabkov: Of course, the P5+1 and Iran worked out all elements of this problem, including unilateral sanctions against Tehran introduced by the USA and EU.  The principle and ideology of solving this problem – step-by-step approach and reciprocity – were originally proposed by Russia, that is not an exaggeration.  The suspension and repeal of these sanctions is connected to concrete steps taken by Iran in the nuclear sphere, which the IAEA has to certify. A rather complex plan of action has been elaborated and approved, defining the steps to be taken after the signing of agreement.  It sets out the timelines and conditions for treaty to become operational, defines what should be considered the day of implementation of the agreement, etc. This framework, this “Christmas tree,” is further decorated with specific “candies, mandarins and chocolate rabbits.” Iranians are still discussing their volume, size, and number with all the parties.

In this regard, I want to say that it was the principled position of the Russian Federation not to participate in the discussion on the lifting of the unilateral sanctions introduced against Iran by the USA and EU, and on how those sanctions will be removed and repealed. We have always considered those sanctions illegitimate and stated that modern international law only allows adoption of unilateral sanctions if the targeted country has previously performed hostile actions against the state, which adopted the sanctions. This is an element of universally accepted international law doctrine. There were no signs that Iran conducted hostile actions against the USA or EU, so at least from this point of view, to say nothing of the combination of other political and legal factors, we consider the American and European sanctions illegitimate.

That said, we were very careful to ensure that no element of the mechanism for the suspension and subsequent repeal of the US and EU unilateral sanctions that we were developing would trench upon the prerogatives of the UN Security Council, undermine the competencies of the IAEA established by its Charter, or have a negative impact on our existing and potential future bilateral cooperation with Iran in various areas, including nuclear energy. The fact that we are not part of the negotiations on the substance of the abovementioned track doesn’t mean that we are “not involved”. Rather, we are busy dealing with other issues of direct relevance to us. As for the arrangements for the repeal of unilateral sanctions, Iran, the United States and the European Union discussed them directly.

As for the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, a serious problem remains. We are convinced, and our Chinese friends among others share this view, that sanctions, which were imposed by the UN Security Council in a series of resolutions that do not relate directly to strengthening the international nuclear nonproliferation regime should be repealed as a matter of priority. Resolution 1929, which introduced a prohibition on the export of seven categories of conventional weapons from the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms to Iran, is among the resolutions that should be terminated following the deal. We insist that the existing arms embargo and other measures that do not directly relate to nonproliferation should be repealed as one of the very first, priority steps following the deal and the adoption of the resolution of the Security Council endorsing the arrangement.

A few aspects of the current sanctions regime are being transformed into a set of limitations, or, to be more precise, self-restraints on the Iranian part that would help to create trust in the process and help to guarantee a progressive pace of solving the problems that stand before the parties to the talks. Not everything can happen in one day. That is a different topic, and much of it has already been regulated and written down.  However, for instance, we still have significant problems with the arms embargo, and I think that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow the Russian negotiators in Vienna will focus on those issues. Even the ministers, which are scheduled to return in the next couple of days, will pay this issue additional attention. 

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