Iran discusses nuclear talks, defense with Russia

The meeting was originally planned for January, but both sides agreed to postpone to a later date.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran July 19, 2022.  (photo credit: PRESIDENT WEBSITE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran July 19, 2022.
(photo credit: PRESIDENT WEBSITE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Moscow this week for important meetings with Russian officials.

Among the topics of discussion was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran deal of 2015. Iran continues to say that it wants support for a return to the Iran deal, even as it enriches uranium above 80 percent and stockpiles the enriched uranium. 

Iran said that “Russia played an efficient role in the new round of the 4+1 talks in Vienna, which continued for a few months. Our Russian colleagues keep fulfilling their obligations related to returning the sides [to the negotiating table]."

Iran also is seeking more work with Russia on the International North-South Transport Corridor which means increased trade via the Caucasus. In general, this is about creating new networks to avoid the US and the West as sanctions grow on Iran. Iran has supplied Russia with drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Iran wants more Russian support for its defense industry.  

According to Russia’s Tass state media, “Abdollahian’s visit to the Russian capital was initially planned for January, but the sides agreed to postpone it to a later date. Among the issues to be raised are preparations for a meeting of deputy foreign ministers from Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria on improving the ties between Damascus and Ankara.”

 Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021 (credit: REUTERS) Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and delegations wait for the start of a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission in Vienna, Austria December 17, 2021 (credit: REUTERS)

The talks in Russia also touched on Syria, where Iran operates. According to these reports, Iran also wanted a comprehensive agreement on bilateral cooperation with Moscow and a document for a free trade zone.  

Iran also hopes that “Russia and Iran would agree on visa-free travel for individual tourists later this year. Currently, visa-free travel from Russia to Iran is possible only in groups.” 

Middle East media is watching the meeting closely

Media in the Middle East is watching the talks in Russia closely. Al-Ain media in the UAE devoted a long article to the Iranian meetings in Russia. That article notes that Iran is seeking more technology from Russia.

“Moscow provides Tehran with advanced software in the field of espionage and digital surveillance,” the report said.

This could include increased cyber collaboration. “According to this report, in addition to these cyber capabilities, Iran wants dozens of advanced Russian attack helicopters and combat aircraft, as well as Moscow's assistance in Iran's long-range missile program,” Al-Ain noted. 

Al-Mayadeen media, which is pro-Iran, noted that Iran is seeking greater defense cooperation. It also noted Iran wants support on the Iran deal talks and also on trade via the Caucasus. The US is concerned about the growing cooperation between Iran and Russia who appear to want to bring together the Syrian regime and Turkey for talks in the near future. These represent major shifts in the region and they dovetail with Iran’s outreach to Saudi Arabia and China.