Remarks by Mr. Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, at the event entitled “One Year of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Implementation: Achievements and Prospects for Sustainability”
Dear Mr Khlopkov, Distinguished participants,
Dear Colleagues, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m happy to be here with you on this winter day. I appreciate that our event is hosted by CENESS and by the United Nations which on July 20, 2015 approved the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) through the adoption of the Security Council resolution 2231. Also today, 12 months ago, the practical implementation of the JCPOA started.
A lot has happened since then. One year benchmark is an appropriate moment for us to make some initial assessments, draw preliminary conclusions and, possibly, to look anew at some goals and tasks for the future.
And my first and important observation is that all parties to the JCPOA have demonstrated unprecedentedly strong resolve to fulfill their respective commitments under the Plan. We all know how the most detailed and carefully drafted agreements turn out to be idle in the absence of political will and good faith. Luckily with the JCPOA it is very different. Let me first remind you all that the JCPOA is probably one of the most unambiguous, detailed and straightforward agreements ever drafted by diplomats. Now, ambiguity is a loved girlfriend (or boyfriend) of any diplomat. We want to be together at all times. Meanwhile there is almost no ambiguity to look for in the JCPOA. Are we disappointed? Not at all. It is reassuring and promising, and we believe that we are on the right track with this text. Ambiguity will be found elsewhere, and the love affair will continue. But in the JCPOA there is no place for things like this. It is about non-proliferation and security. Not more, but not less than that, and let it stay this way.
The responsible attitude of all parties to the JCPOA, despite bleak forecasts of a number of skeptics, allowed to launch its practical implementation smoothly and without delays. Jointly with Iran we in Russia undertook an unprecedented operation of shipping out of a stock of Iran’s enriched uranium to our territory. It took a lot of efforts and creativity both on the part of the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom” and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. But ultimately we succeeded, and it is us who made it for the Implementation Day to happen. Let me tell you it was not as easy as it may sound.
The Comprehensive Plan by definition is a complex network of arrangements, deals and compromises. The scope of obligations is enormous and it’s normal that from time to time some practical aspects require further clarifications, drafting of additional guidance, and even development of practical arrangements and operational methods. But P5+1 and Iran worked and continue to work really hard to address the differences and find mutually acceptable solutions. To this end we do also maintain a frequent and intense dialogue with the IAEA. We exchange views, react to concerns, if any, and look together for optimal solutions.
As the IAEA confirms in all its reports since the Implementation Day, Iran fully complies with its obligations. Thus, the quantities of heavy water and enriched uranium stocks and fuels remain below the thresholds stipulated in the JCPOA. The Agency has no difficulties in accessing Iran’s nuclear facilities as provided for under the JCPOA and in making use of the most advanced verification instruments.
In 2016 both Russia and the United States purchased heavy water from Iran. That was yet another step towards full implementation of the JCPOA. New potential buyers from some countries are on their way.
There are two key projects that are vital to long-term sustainability of the JCPOA – modernization of the Arak heavy water research reactor and conversion of the two uranium enrichment centrifuge cascades at Fordow facility into a high-tech stable isotopes production. Russia is responsible for it under the JCPOA. This is a unique cooperation effort that we undertake together with Iran and actually for the first time ever with a foreign partner. This is technologically a very complex and challenging task that in the end of the day will allow Iran to produce stable isotopes for medical, industrial and agricultural purposes and, in a longer run, will provide an opportunity for both Russia and Iran to deepen cooperation in the area of advanced technologies.
By now all operational mechanisms of the JCPOA (the Joint Commission and its working groups) are in place, function regularly and efficiently and are oriented to achieve specific results.
The most recent meeting of the Joint Commission took place in Vienna just a few days ago (January 10). The discussion was very frank and open, as usually, and as, I’m convinced, it should be among partners.
The participants shared positive assessment of the one year of practical implementation of the JCPOA. Naturally, not everything came up to expectations. As it turned out the positive effect of lifting of the restrictive measures doesn’t reflect itself as strongly, as many expected. Even after the sanctions legally became invalid, another long transitional period was needed to adjust the mentality and assumptions of business community and allow to enjoy the real benefits and profits from new international climate. We do recognize that the US and the EU countries conduct regular outreach with business, including bankers, producers, investors, transporters etc. But we strongly believe that still much more could and should be done to restore business, economic and financial ties and cooperation between Iran and the rest of the world.
Despite the unfortunately slow pace of the process its current dynamics are promisingly positive. The flow of direct investments as well as export to Iran have increased. Some big companies like Airbus and Boeing proceed with implementation of the signed contracts with Iran in particular in the field of civil aviation. Russian cooperation with Iran in various spheres increased as well over the last year.
There is also one important instrument of the JCPOA – Procurement Channel for the supply to Iran of commodities controlled under the Nuclear Suppliers Group. These are nuclear direct use goods and dual-use goods. I’d like to use this opportunity to reassure once again all potential suppliers: anyone can freely and easily submit to the Procurement Channel any application in accordance with the existing procedures. The UNSC “format 2231” as well as the JCPOA participants are open to any requests for additional clarifications, if needed. No prior consent or agreement from whoever is required to submit an application to the Procurement Channel. There is a clear need to attract more applications for this instrument to demonstrate its effectiveness. Any confidential information that might appear in application submitted will be treated duly which means will not be leaked out or used improperly.
We in Russia are confident that the JCPOA is one of very few and rare success stories in the area of nonproliferation. For decades we were unable to achieve anything as important. It has already produced positive impact on the regional and international security and stability. And we are determined to undertake everything possible not only to preserve the JCPOA but to make it even more sustainable in a long term perspective. We hope all our partners including the incoming US Administration will follow suit.
I thank you and now I think we will be ready to take questions. But before that I believe Director Khlopkov will say a few words.
Thank you once again.