Tehran, Iran Iran and the West clash over Tehran’s alleged sale of drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine, an issue now being linked to a UN resolution backing the country’s nuclear deal with world powers.
UN Security Council Resolution 2231 was passed unanimously in 2015 to ratify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the agreement Iran signed with China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany to seek relief from get the sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
The US unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and imposed severe sanctions that are still in effect today. Efforts since April 2021 to reinstate the deal have stalled.
European powers are now trying to use a periodic reporting mechanism in the resolution. Last week, they called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to investigate Iran’s alleged drone sale to Russia — a claim Tehran has consistently denied.
The US has also said the alleged export of “kamikaze drones” used in Ukraine could be a violation of the resolution.
The JCPOA included a ban on Iran’s exports of conventional weapons, which expired in October 2020 despite US opposition. It still maintains a ban on ballistic missile activities, which expires in October 2023.
‘Spend it to buy coal’
Western powers say Tehran may not comply with obligations limiting missile proliferation, which, if proven, could potentially trigger a “snapback” mechanism that would automatically restore multilateral sanctions against Iran.
Tehran has unsurprisingly rejected the call for a UN investigation based on the so-called E3’s JCPOA resolution, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani “strongly condemning” it in a statement on Saturday.
At a press conference on Monday, Kanani reiterated Tehran’s position that it has not provided Moscow with Shahed-136 suicide drones or other ammunition for the war in Ukraine, despite sharing “defense cooperation” with the Kremlin.
He also denied a White House claim that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had sent personnel to Russia-annexed Crimea to help operate the drones.
But top officials, including the country’s supreme leader and president, have boasted of Iran’s military prowess, while a senior IRGC commander last week said 22 countries want to buy Iranian drones. He did not name those nations.
Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff for Iran’s armed forces, said Monday in a derisive statement in response to sanctions imposed by the bloc and Britain against him and others.
JCPOA in limbo
The link between the resolution on the nuclear deal and the war in Ukraine is happening as talks to restore the JCPOA remain in limbo, with Iran and the West sending out different signals.
The indirect talks between Iran and the US that were about to reach the finish line about two months ago reached a deadlock again last month, with Tehran and Washington blaming each other for indecision, and the discussions were actually delayed until after the midterm elections in the US.
Protests that erupted in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who was in police custody in mid-September have cast another major shadow, with Iran blaming the West for “inciting riots” and imposing sanctions on the West. human rights and calls on Tehran to end what it called a “cruel suppression of protests”.
While the US has said nuclear talks are not a priority right now, Iran has presented a very different story.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Saturday that he had received a message from the US three days earlier through an intermediary indicating that Washington was actually “rushing” to reach an agreement on the nuclear deal.
“The Americans are trying to exert political and psychological pressure to make concessions in the talks,” Amirabdollahian said, raising the issue of an unresolved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation into man-made nuclear material that has been found at various locations. Iranian locations has been found, brought forward. .
Iran has demanded that the investigation be closed before an agreement is reached.
Tehran says the IAEA is acting under political pressure from the West and Israel in pursuing the investigation, but the nuclear watchdog has maintained that the investigation can only be closed with full cooperation from Iran.
At the end of September, Iran’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, officially resumed talks with the IAEA in Vienna and the process appears to be underway.
“Fortunately, we are on a good track in terms of technical talks and cooperation with the agency despite mischief by the Zionist regime [Israel] lobby,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kanani said Monday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was quoted by Iranian state media on Monday as saying defense cooperation between Tehran and Moscow will continue.
“If it is proven to us that Iranian drones are being used in the war in Ukraine against people, we should not remain indifferent,” Amirabdollahian said.
On Sunday, Amirabdollahian had another phone call with his counterpart from Oman, Sayyid Badr Albusaidi — who has been relaying messages between Tehran and Washington along with Qatar — about talks over the nuclear deal.