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24 Nov, 2013 13:22

Lavrov: Win-win Iran deal only became possible after Rouhani came to power

The nuclear deal agreed between Iran and the P5+1 group is a win-win situation for everyone, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that it only became possible after Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, came to power.

“The very long and difficult negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program have ended, an agreement has been reached, and this deal crowns [our] longstanding relations, during which we’ve seen both ups and downs,” Lavrov told journalists.

The agreement means that “we agree with the necessity to recognize Iran’s right to the peaceful atom, including the right to enrichment, with the understanding that all questions we currently have for the program will be [settled] and the whole program will be put under the IAEA’s strict control,” he said. “It’s the final aim, but it’s already fixed in today’s document.”

The agreement was based on the “concept promoted by the Russian president and fixed in Russia’s foreign policy,” Lavrov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted to the news saying that the Geneva agreement is a “step towards solving one of toughest global problems,” adding that it was a “breakthrough, but only the first step on a long and difficult path.”

Russia is “ready to continue the enduring search for a mutually acceptable, wider integrated solution that will ensure Iran’s inalienable right to develop a peaceful nuclear program under IAEA control and the security of all countries in the Middle East, including Israel,” he said. 

(L to R) EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle , Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reacts after a statement on early November 24, 2013 in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

The deal means that the International Atomic Energy Authority will have an expanded role in controlling Iran’s nuclear program.

“Iran has agreed to a range of additional measures apart from those that the agency is already undertaking. So I believe that in the long run, it’s win-win for everyone,” Lavrov said, adding that the Iranians had changed their stance since the election of Hassan Rouhani as the country’s president. Lavrov said that he and the other P5+1 ministers “felt that the declarations [from Iran] about wishing to find a solution had a serious basis. This became apparent in the negotiating positions of our Iranian colleagues.”

Lavrov said he was now “sure that Iran will conscientiously collaborate with IAEA.”

“We’ll reaffirm mutual confidence after reaching this agreement, the confidence we often lacked and which caused unnecessary tensions in the region, in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf region,” he said, adding that this confidence would allow “the US and EU partners to ease the sanctions pressure that was imposed against Iran.” 

The pressure on Iran should be reduced by canceling unilateral sanctions, Lavrov said.

“We didn’t recognize those unilateral sanctions, and I think it would be right to reduce them,” he added. 

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) reacts next to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (C) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a plenary session on early November 24, 2013 in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

A reduction in pressure on Iran would also help in “promoting the aim outlined by the international community in 2010,” Lavrov said, namely, “a conference to create a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.”

Under the Geneva agreement, Iran has pledged to freeze its nuclear program for six months while the P5+1 countries and Tehran seek a permanent agreement, Lavrov said.

This time is needed to figure out “the parameters Iran will require for peaceful nuclear activities, fuel production, nuclear power facilities and nuclear research reactors which produce isotopes for medical and other humanitarian purposes,” Lavrov said.

Over those six months, “Iran will not add any centrifuges, and will refrain from taking any steps toward the construction of the heavy-water-moderated reactor in Arak. In other words, the whole current Iranian nuclear program – which is, by the way, fully controlled by the IAEA – will stay the same for the next six months.”

Resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program could also help to resolve the Syrian conflict, too, by “involving Iran in the constructive work” on this problem, Lavrov said.