Iran denies nuclear deal delay linked to Russian demands amid Ukraine crisis

The text of a new deal is 'almost complete' but significant hurdles could derail compromise

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian shake hands after a joint news conference following talks in Moscow.  AP

The suspension of talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal is not linked to the Ukraine crisis, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday.

The US and the E3 — Germany, France and the UK — have accused Russia of linking its support for the deal to a lifting of tough sanctions imposed following its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Amir-Abdollahian’s remarks at a news conference in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov came amid a pause in talks that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell said was caused by “external factors.”

"A final text is essentially ready and on the table," he said.

The E3 this week released a statement condemning what they called interference in the talks.

“Nobody should seek to exploit JCPOA negotiations to obtain assurances that are separate to the JCPOA. This risks the collapse of the deal, depriving the Iranian people of sanctions lifting and the international community of the assurance needed on Iran’s nuclear programme,” the statement said.

Russian and Iranian negotiators have said the final text of a new deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — is almost complete.

Mr Amir-Abdollahian has welcomed the disruption of the talks, saying the pause can “pave the way for the resolution of issues and the return of all parties to their nuclear deal commitments.”

He added that he had invited Mr Lavrov to visit Iran soon.

Moscow, like Tehran, has expressed the position that sanctions on Iran should be lifted as soon as possible.

The US insists this is not a reasonable demand and says that Iran must commit to stringent limitations on its nuclear activities before sanctions can be lifted, although the US has also offered Iran limited sanctions relief as a goodwill gesture.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow is in favour of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resuming and is waiting for Washington to lift sanctions on Iran.

Updated: March 15, 2022, 2:02 PM