Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to hold talks with Iranian leaders on topics including how to salvage a nuclear agreement with world powers.

He met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and was due later to meet President Hassan Rowhani, the IRNA news agency reported, adding that the cyberattack on a nuclear facility in Natanz in central Iran is also expected to be discussed.

Tehran blames arch-enemy Israel for the “terrorist act” to sabotage the Vienna negotiations, which are due to continue later this week, and thus the nuclear deal with the five UN Security Council members and Germany.

“We are sticking to our line: The incident in Natanz only complicates the negotiations,” Zarif said in Tehran on Tuesday during his meeting with Lavrov.

Iran would resume its obligations under the Vienna agreement as soon as the US returned to the deal, treaty law was implemented and sanctions were lifted, he said.

Lavrov urged haste in talks on a future for the Iran nuclear deal. “I don’t think we have much time.”
He said those who wanted to disrupt and ultimately bury the negotiations knew there was only a certain window of opportunity. “We condemn all attempts to disrupt these important negotiations,” Lavrov said, according to Interfax agency.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Zarif again blamed Isreal for the attack and called it a “war crime.”

Russia is one of the countries trying to save the agreement reached in 2015 between Iran, the five UN veto powers and Germany in Vienna. Negotiations have been under way since last week. Lavrov said he hoped it would be preserved. The prerequisite is that the US “fully implement” it.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal under former president Donald Trump, dealing it a near-fatal blow. But there have been signs that it could be revived under the new administration of Joe Biden.

At the same time, Lavrov criticized tougher EU sanctions imposed on Iran for violations of basic human rights. This matter raises many questions, he said. “If there is no coordination in the European Union, and the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, this is a disaster.”

But if this decision was taken deliberately in the midst of talks to save the nuclear agreement, it was a mistake, Lavrov said.

The Council of EU member states had agreed on Monday to tighten the punitive measures. The background is the suppression of protests in November 2019.

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