Iran president claims Putin is helping him to ‘neutralize’ US sanctions with talks about up to $10billion of trade after it was disclosed three US diplomats negotiating nuclear deal resigned because Biden is too soft
The Iranian president touted a closer alliance with Russia in an interview Tuesday, describing how they were trying to ‘neutralize’ U.S. sanctions with talks about generating up to $10 billion in trade.
It comes after President Ebrahim Raisi met with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin last week.
His comments shed fresh light on reports that Russia opened a separate channel of nuclear negotiations, suggesting it would offer sanctions relief in return for reimposing some restrictions on Tehran’s atomic program – with broader talks in Vienna are stalled.
But analysts said his words served a clear purpose, protecting his own position as a hardliner while preparing for Iran to return to direct negotiations with the U.S.
Besides trying to have the sanctions lifted, the government is also trying to ‘neutralize the sanctions,’ said Raisi during an interview with state TV.
He explained that better trade ties with neighbors could help the Iranian economy.
And he said that had been among the topics of conversation during his visit to Russia, as well as ways to break the dollar’s hold on international trade.
‘Exports of [Iranian] agricultural products and imports of strategic commodities from Russia, given the possibility of eliminating [trade] tariffs, were among the issues that were discussed,’ he said.
In an interview with state TV on Tuesday, President Ebrahim Raisi said nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was possible if sanctions on his country were lifted
Raisi (right) said he discussed eliminating trade tariffs on agricultural exports and imports strategic commodities with President Vladimir Putin of Russia last week
Raisi met Putin at the Kremlin, as part of their growing alliance, sitting around a socially distanced table in this image distributed by the Iranian presidency
GOP lawmaker slams Biden after three of his Iran negotiating team RESIGN because US is being too soft
A Republican member of Congress on Tuesday praised three Biden administration officials who walked away from their roles on the State Department’s nuclear talks with Iran.
Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, who served in the Middle East as one of the Army’s elite Green Berets, told DailyMail.com their departure at a critical junction of the discussions is a reflection of President Joe Biden’s policies putting ‘national security at risk.’
A State Department official confirmed that Richard Nephew, known as the architect of sanctions on Tehran, had stepped down as U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Iran after urging a tougher stance on nuclear talks.
At the same time, the Wall Street Journal reported that two other negotiators had stepped aside from their positions because they wanted a harder negotiating position.
Waltz joined their call on Tuesday by urging Biden to return to his predecessor Donald Trump’s ‘policy of maximum pressure’ against Tehram’s regime.
‘It’s good to see some officials recognize when diplomacy gets too desperate and begins to really put American national security at risk,’ the Florida Republican said.
The roughly-$3-billion volume of trade with Russia could be enhanced to as much as $10 billion, he claimed.
Their meeting in Moscow last week comes as both men face isolation from the West.
For Putin, it is the result of years of trying to divide Europe and weeks of threatening moves against Ukraine.
For Raisi, a hardliner elected president last year, it is the result of the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for strict limits on its nuclear program.
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018, reimposing sanctions.
Talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is officially known, began last year.
But Iran has refused to talk directly with American negotiators during meetings in Vienna, forcing European diplomats to shuttle between rooms delivering messages from each side.
Iran watchers pointed to another section of Raisi’s interview as offering more significance, in which he raised the prospect of a deal being reached.
‘If the parties are ready to lift the oppressive sanctions, it is quite possible any agreement can be reached,’ he said according to Press TV.
Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said the idea of direct talks had now been introduced by Tehran’s foreign minister.
‘It’s a preparation for that and Raisi doesn’t want to look as if Iran is giving in too quickly,’ he said.
‘It is all about looking tough and that they got a better deal out of this than the [former president] Rouhani team would have.’
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei this month signaled he was ready to approve direct negotiations, saying negotiating with the enemy did not mean surrender.
On Monday, the State Department repeated that it was ready to start direct talks.
‘We have consistently held the position that it would be much more productive to engage with directly on both (nuclear deal) negotiations and on other issues,’ spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Raisi outlined details of the Moscow meeting after House Republican asked the Biden administration to share what it knows about Russian overtures to Iran about an ‘interim’ nuclear deal.
The U.S. is ‘aware’ of the proposal, NBC reported, amid administration efforts to try to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
‘Russia sent a secret agreement to Iran. Russia is trying to take the lead now in the negotiations with Iran. This is a secret agreement. We haven’t seen it,’ Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who sits on the Armed Services Committee, described reports the administration was ‘working with the Russians’ on the issue as ‘doubly concerning.’
‘First, they create a conflict of interest with Russia as we are trying to prevent an invasion of Ukraine. Second, preemptive sanctions relief, and failure to transmit an interim agreement to Congress, would violate the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act,’ he said.
‘The administration needs to end their simultaneous surrender to Russia and Iran before it’s too late.’