By Andrew Osborn and Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW - Russia and Iran condemned the United States on Wednesday, blaming it for what they portrayed as Tehran’s forced decision to scale back some curbs to its nuclear program, while putting the onus on European powers to offer Iran sanctions relief.
Iran earlier on Wednesday announced steps that for now stop short of violating its 2015 deal with world powers under which it agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. But it threatened more action if it was not shielded from U.S. sanctions.
The Kremlin said Iran had been provoked into rolling back some of the terms of the deal due to pressure from the United States, a year after Washington itself pulled out of the pact.
“President Putin has repeatedly spoken of the consequences of unthought-out steps regarding Iran and by that I mean the decision taken by Washington (to quit the deal). Now we are seeing those consequences are starting to happen,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
After holding talks in Moscow, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he could guarantee the nuclear deal’s survival if the agreement’s European signatories fulfilled their obligations, something he accused them of not doing.
“Russia and China fulfilled their obligations... but other parties, including the Europeans, have not been honoring their commitments,” said Zarif, saying his country’s retreat from certain aspects of the deal was legal and could be reversed.
“There’s now a short window of time when other signatories of the pact, and in particular European countries, can honor the obligations. If these commitments are honored we can guarantee the continued survival of the agreement.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed, calling on Britain, Germany and France to fulfill their obligations under the deal. U.S. pressure on Tehran was making it hard for it to comply with all the terms of the agreement, complained Lavrov.
He said it was crucial that Iran be allowed to export its oil, something Washington is trying to prevent, and that it was essential for the nuclear pact’s signatories to hold consultations to ensure the agreement survived.