by Arty Katkov
Russia is surprised by EU sanctions against some of Iran’s officials, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has slammed sanctions against Iran introduced amid ongoing Vienna talks as unacceptable.
Moscow condemns any attempts to undermine talks on the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Lavrov said.
His Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also expressed hope that common sense will prevail in the EU, adding that there is not much time left to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
“The EU has very little time left to return to compliance with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. On the other hand, if this opportunity is lost, trouble will come. Therefore, I hope that common sense will prevail in the EU … They must return to gestures of goodwill, to gestures aimed at protecting human rights … They must think about their image, the EU must know that they are not ‘ the moral top’,” Zarif said at a press conference, held after negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Russian foreign minister also said that Washington should lift all unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
“Our position is clear, it is absolutely in line with the approach of our Iranian friends. All the unilateral sanctions that Washington imposed in direct violation of the JCPOA must be undoubtedly canceled,” Lavrov said at the press conference.
Last week, however, a senior US State Department official said that Iran’s demand to lift all the sanctions imposed since 2017 was inadmissible for Washington.
EU Extends Iran Sanctions
On Monday, the EU Council decided to extend the sanctions it first imposed in 2011 in response to “serious human rights violations in Iran” until 13 April 2022. These measures include a travel ban and an asset freeze, and a ban on exports to Iran of equipment that may be used “for internal repression and of equipment for monitoring telecommunications”.
The council also added eight persons and three entities to this sanctions list in view of their role in the crackdown on the November 2019 demonstrations in Iran. Currently, there are 89 individuals and 4 entities on the list.
The news came amid the Vienna talks, dedicated to bringing the US back into the Iran deal, which withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In 2015, Iran signed the Nuclear Deal with the P5+1 group of countries, which required that Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. In 2018, however, Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of the deal, re-imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic, and initiating even stricter financial hurdles.
Tehran has taken several steps against denuclearisation, arguing that since the US abandoned the deal first, they should take the first step in renegotiating and ultimately removing sanctions.