News analysis: Why are the Russians trying to re-establish the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA)?
What interests does Moscow pursue? In recent months, there have been many moves to bring the IAEA Board back to the nuclear negotiating table. Efforts have not yet produced tangible results, but the efforts are continued so far. In the meantime, Russia is more than ever trying to revive the UN Security Council and persuade the two sides to return to talks.
Russians efforts for re-establishing JCPOA
Tabnak International: In recent months, there have been many moves to bring the parties back to the nuclear negotiating table; Efforts that, although so far have not yielded concrete results, are still ongoing. In the meantime, Russia is more than ever trying to revive the UN Security Council and persuade the two sides to return to talks.
Russia has recently made extensive efforts to pay the visit of Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to Iran. On the other hand, Iranian and Russian officials have met and talked since the 13th government took office in Iran, and Moscow has called on Tehran to speed up the process of returning to nuclear talks. In fact, they put significant pressure on the parties, particularly Iran, to resume talks.
The question is, why do the Russians seek to revive Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and what do they gain from it?
JCPOA Benefits for Russians
This is the question that Dr. Ali Jafari, an expert on international affairs, answered in an interview with Tabnak. The international affairs expert said:
“Regarding Russia’s approach to the UN Security Council, different periods can be considered, and of course, there are different theories among experts in this regard.”
In the past, when negotiations were under way between Iran and the West, Russia was taking steps that did not show 100% agreement with JCPOA. Also, during the Trump era, it was said that Russia was happy that JCPOA was in trouble.
Although various reasons have been mentioned in this regard. Among other things, JCPOA was considered to mean opening the footsteps of other countries in the region and in Iran; Including China as a rival and an emerging economic power that is also one of Russia’s rivals. Another reason was that Russia could find trouble in the field of energy while the JCPOA was being concluded; Why?
Because Iran was entering the energy market, especially in global gas. In that case Europe could try to diversify its energy portfolio and use Iran’s capacity. This was not pleasant for Russia. He added:
“Another point is that the conclusion of JCPOA meant the return of Iran to the cycle of the world economy, and this created a kind of conflict of interest between Iran and Russia, especially since Iran and Russia were both oil and gas exporters.”
As a result, Iran’s return to international markets could also affect Russia’s oil and gas revenues. But recently, especially since Joe Biden came to power and expressed his desire to revive JCPOA, Russia has taken a relatively different approach than the past, trying to revive JCPOA and encouraging Iran and European countries and the United States to return to JCPOA. Jafari continued:
“Russia’s support for the revival of the IAEA during the Biden era can have several reasons: Russia believes that the IAEA is a good model for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the West Asian region.”
Therefore, for whatever reason Iran wants to increase its nuclear activities and violate the IAEA, other countries, especially the Persian Gulf countries, will also increase their nuclear activities and acquire nuclear weapons in order to establish a security balance with Tehran.
In such a situation, it is natural that the nuclear arms race in West Asia will increase. It will create a tense atmosphere, and this atmosphere will certainly overshadow Russia’s security in their vicinity. Therefore, Moscow thinks that the case of Iran’s nuclear activities should not continue as a tense factor and a continuation of the diplomatic crisis between Tehran and other countries should be maintained. “The next issue is the decisions that were made during the Biden era,” said the foreign policy expert.
The United States has withdrawn from Afghanistan and is said to be withdrawing from Iraq by the end of the year, with whispers of a reduction in troops and a withdrawal from Syria. All these developments indicate that the United States will soon withdraw from the West Asian region. In this context, Russia feels that it must revive the UN Security Council in order to create a stable atmosphere in the region to increase its regional influence through Iran.
We know that Russia has in the past exercised part of its regional influence through Iran, and the US withdrawal from the region and the role that Iran has played in this decision have encouraged Russia to do the same and deepen its influence through Iran. Jafari added:
“Another point goes back to the diplomatic relations between Iran and Russia.”
The escalation of the Iranian nuclear issue and the weakening of the UN Security Council also pose many problems for Iran-Russia relations. It is as if the escalation and continuation of sanctions and the US policy of maximum pressure in recent months and years have also damaged relations between the two sides, especially in the economic and trade spheres. Therefore, Russia provides the conditions for deepening and expanding economic and trade relations; therefore, it is trying to revive JCPOA to use the related benefits.
Some of the mentioned interests go back to the discussion of arms deals and the benefits that Russia will have from it. Russia is keen to do so in the hope that JCPOA will be revived, the arms embargo on Iran lifted, and it will be able to take the lead as one of Iran’s key arms export partners. Russia’s state arms company, Rosobroneexport, a Russian arms exporter, announced the signing of a 1 billion-euro arms deal with Iran in the last few months of 2021, on the sidelines of Russia’s Max 2021 aerospace exhibition.
This shows that Russia has a great interest in arms exports. During his recent visit to Russia, General Bagheri, the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, explicitly stated that a contract for the purchase of military equipment such as fighter jets, training jets and combat helicopters has been concluded.
Negotiations on these multi-contracts implementation have taken place; Apparently Russia has come to the conclusion that the revival of JCPOA will:
1st: provide economic and trade benefits,
2nd: present them an effective regional influence in the West Asian region,
3rd: create a successful non-proliferation model to prevent other countries from pursuing nuclear activities.
In general, the issue of JCPOA is one of the most important issues in Russia’s foreign policy in the current situation, and as stated, it is trying through its negotiations with Iran and by encouraging European countries and the United States to start negotiations to revive JCPOA.