No link between Ukraine war and Iran nuclear talks, says Iran’s foreign minister

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The war in Ukraine and efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are unrelated, Tehran’s top diplomat said on Tuesday, after nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers were paused following last-minute demands by Russia.

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“There is no connection between the developments in Ukraine and the Vienna talks,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

“Russia is no obstacle to reaching an agreement in Vienna,” Amir-Abdollahian added, referring to talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

Russia is a participant in the talks, along with Iran, China, Britain, France, and Germany. The US is participating indirectly in the talks due to Tehran’s refusal to negotiate directly with Washington.

“Russia will continue to be with us until the end” of the talks, Amir-Abdollahian was quoted as saying by Iranian state media.

The Vienna talks were paused last week following last-minute demands by Russia. It remains unclear when the talks will resume.

The pause came days after Moscow said it wanted written guarantees from Washington that Russia’s economic and military cooperation with Iran would not be harmed by Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia “directly affect the interests of our country in the context of” the nuclear deal.

“So the sanctions must be taken into account,” Peskov said. “This is a new aspect that cannot be ignored, that must be taken into account.”

Britain, France, and Germany warned Russia on Saturday that its demands risked the collapse of the deal.

“Nobody should seek to exploit JCPOA negotiations to obtain assurances that are separate to the JCPOA,” France, Britain, and Germany said in a joint statement, using the acronym for the formal name of the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“This risks the collapse of the deal,” they said.

The US has dismissed Russia’s demands as “irrelevant,” saying sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine are unrelated to the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran, which views Russia as a strategic ally and whose officials typically refrain from criticising Moscow publicly, has blamed the pause in nuclear talks on the US.

The Vienna talks, which began in April 2021, aim to bring Iran back into compliance with the deal and facilitate a US return to the agreement. The deal offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran, saying the deal failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities and did not block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, responded by expanding its nuclear program, breaching most of the deal’s restrictions.

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