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updated 12:00 PM UTC, Mar 9, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions following the conclusion of nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran

LAVROV QA IRAN

The marathon negotiations conducted by the P5+1 international mediators and Iran for many years have come to an end. The talks were coordinated by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who, together with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is now giving a presentation on the results of their work for the journalists and audiences around the world.

I will briefly touch on the most important points. First, the parties agreed a joint comprehensive action plan consisting of the main document and five technical annexes, as well as a draft UN Security Council resolution that all the participants in the talks will soon submit, as co-authors, to the UN Security Council to be considered and voted on. We hope that the draft will be unanimously approved.

Throughout all these years we have actively participated in the negotiation process. Importantly, three years ago, the parties managed to break the impasse in negotiations by relying on the concept of gradualism and reciprocity proposed by Russian experts, whereby every step taken by Iran in order to meet the demands of the international community was matched by steps from the P5+1 and the United Nations to ease sanctions until all the restrictions are finally lifted.

The principle of gradualism and reciprocity played an important role in all phases of our work. The final agreement is fully consistent with the target set out in Russia's foreign policy concept, which is to achieve recognition of Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear programme, including the right to enrich uranium under strict IAEA supervision, to clarify all outstanding issues and to lift all remaining sanctions. This approach is enshrined in the adopted documents, which map out the sequence of actions that would eventually lead to the outcome that we all agreed upon.

It is important that the IAEA has broad verification mechanisms with regard to the implementation of Iran’s commitments related to its nuclear programme. Russia will actively participate in all stages of the implementation of this agreement. To do so, a joint commission is being created, which will represent all the participants of the negotiations, including the P5+1 mediators, Iran, and the European Union. This commission will address all issues and claims raised by any party with regard to the other parties’ compliance with their commitments.

Importantly, Russia will actively participate in practical activities to implement the agreements. This concerns two issues that are directly referred to in the documents: exporting low-enriched uranium from Iran to Russia in exchange for raw uranium supplies and converting the former Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant into a facility to produce stable isotopes for medical and industrial needs.

I’d be remiss not to mention the broader context of what happened. Of course, the solutions will, first, play an important role in strengthening the non-proliferation regime. Second, they will, of course, have a healing effect on the overall situation in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf. Third, once this agreement is implemented, it will be possible to tackle other issues in that region. I’m confident that this will bolster the prerequisites for continuing and, most importantly, completing work on convening the Conference on a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East.

There is another aspect of the broader context that is worth mentioning. As we are all aware, in April 2009, speaking in Prague, US President Barack Obama said, "If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defence construction in Europe will be removed." Today, we drew the attention of our American colleagues to this. We’ll see what they have to say.

Implementing the agreements will be beneficial for bilateral relations between Russia and Iran. Our economic relations will, of course, receive an additional boost, because the constraints that our Western partners introduced with their unilateral and illegitimate sanctions against Iran will be removed. We will no longer have to deal with attempts by the United States and the European Union to apply unilateral extraterritorial sanctions, which prevented our companies from carrying out financial transactions and implementing other projects together with our Iranian partners.

Russia and Iran have ambitious plans for the development of the Iranian nuclear power industry. We have signed agreements to build several additional nuclear power plant units. Notably, just like when previous UN Security Council resolutions were in effect, under the new agreement, this cooperation between Russia and Iran is completely insured against any negative impact from external factors.

Question: Is it true that the arms embargo will remain in effect for another five years?

Sergey Lavrov: I won’t go into the details on the process for lifting the sanctions. A number of restrictions will be lifted right away, including unilateral EU sanctions. Many sanctions imposed by the Americans to limit cooperation with Iran in the sphere of civil aviation will go too, as will many others.

With regard to the arms embargo, Russia and China wanted it to be lifted first. Our Iranian colleagues (as you are aware, they had the final say in this regard) have agreed to a compromise. The West initially insisted on keeping the arms embargo for eight or even 10 years. But the Iranians and their Western colleagues reached a compromise, which Russia and China have, of course, supported, given that it was acceptable to Tehran. For the next five years, arms supplies to Iran will be possible under the appropriate notification procedure and verification by the UN Security Council.

Question: When will the text of the agreement be published?

Sergey Lavrov: We agreed that the package of documents will be released today. At a news conference, which may have already begun, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will make these documents available to the international community. I’m confident that you will get them today.

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