July 22, 2020
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says extending Tehran-Moscow 20-year cooperation agreement is on the Islamic Republic’s agenda.
Zarif who is visiting Moscow also announced that in addition to renewing the current agreement Tehran has an offer for another “long term accord” with Moscow if the Russian government voices readiness.
So far there has been no specific response from the Kremlin.
Tehran-Kremlin’s twenty-year agreement, inked in March 2001 in Moscow by pro-reform President Mohammad Khatami and Vladimir Putin, expires next March.
At the time, Khatami hoped the deal would mark “a new spring” in the two countries’ cooperative relations. The deal was the first broad cooperation agreement between Tehran-Kremlin since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the downfall of the pro-West king of Iran. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
“Russia is also interested in such cooperation for economic reasons. And the political reasons are that we believe that Iran must be an independent, self-sufficient state capable of defending its national interests,” Putin insisted at the time.
The issue of extending the contract with Russia and announcing Tehran’s readiness for a long-term contract with Moscow has coincided with a discussion over a controversial 25-year “strategic agreement” between Iran and China.
Based on “Looking East” policy dictated by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Iranian government is attempting to achieve long-term agreements with countries such as China and Russia.
“Relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation are strategic, and in the current situation, where major developments are taking place at the international level, it is essential that we hold regular talks with Russian and Chinese governments,” Zarif noted upon his arrival in Moscow.
However, opponents of signing such agreementss have warned of the “destructive prospects” of the deals, given the “secrecy and inefficiency” of the Islamic Republic’s government.
Meanwhile, Tehran’s ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, said on Tuesday Iran is seeking to buy defensive military equipment from Russia, and bilateral discussions over Tehran’s defensive needs will soon take place.
Currently Iran is not allowed to sell or buy weapons based on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. But the same agreement stipulates an end to the arms embargo on October 18, 2020.
Washington has repeatedly stressed that it will apply “all means” to extend the international arms embargo against Iran.
At the same time, the EU has announced that it would postpone selling weapons to Iran for “some years”, despite the expiration of the arms embargo.
U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has repeatedly noted that Beijing and Moscow have already lined up to ink lucrative arms deals with Iran.
However, China and Russia have so far respected Washington’s sanctions on Tehran. In line with the U.S. sanctions, China’s crude oil imports from Iran show an almost nine-fold decrease, dropping to 82,000 barrels a day in recent months.
The Russian oil companies have also either annulled or suspended their contracts to develop Iranian oil and natural gas fields.