Iran, Russia and China form ‘united front’ as UN chief sounds alarm over nuclear deal

Iran: Ebrahim Raisi criticises US sanctions in UN address

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The UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday that negotiations held in Tehran over Iran’s nuclear programme had proved inconclusive. And while the UN struggles to resolve relations with Iran, Beijing and Moscow appear to be cosying up with Tehran.

Tracey German, Professor in Conflict and Security for Kings College London told that this signals a “united front” between those three states against the US and the EU.

It comes just days before Washington and Tehran are scheduled to meet to try and rekindle the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The pact was an agreement from Iran to limit its nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for a lifting of crippling economic sanctions, a deal abandoned in 2018.

Professor German told “Russia, China and Iran announced that they have reached ‘broad consensus’ on the 2015 nuclear deal, prior to talks between the US and Iran at the end of November.

“This news suggests a united front between the three states versus the US and EU; interesting given that Iran has recently joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (established by Russia and China in 1996), moving from observer status.

“Iran seems to be looking for a closer trade and economic relationship with Russia and China as a substitute for Western ties, reflecting the imposition of a sanctions regime against Russia in 2014, which also pushed it towards China.”

Professor German warned that this move not only signals a renewed rivalry between East and West, but also it emboldens Russia’s power.

She told “For Russia, I think this is tied to their desire to be treated as a great power – since Putin came to power in 2000, he has sought to position Russia as an indispensable power, whose involvement is vital to the resolution of global issues such as Iran.

“There has been tremendous continuity in Russian goals and ambitions over the past two decades: Moscow is looking to maximise power and influence, cement its great power status.”

Hopes of restoring the 2015 nuclear deal have also weakened since Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi policy team led by officials who have been highly critical of the nuclear deal.

Moscow has said it backs Tehran’s calls for both a guarantee against future US withdrawal and the scrapping of all sanctions that violate the initial deal.

But the US is not the only country that are anxious about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

As part of the 2015 deal, Iran’s long-term nuclear programme is under the watch of world powers known as the P5+1 – including UK, France, China, Russia, Germany and the US.

Enriched uranium can be used for nuclear weapons and so this was a worry to the international community.

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Mr Grossi says he has struggled to make progress n several disputes, the most pressing of which is getting access to the workshop at the TESA Karaj complex two months after Iran promised to grant it.

He added that time is now running out for the UN atomic watchdog to gain access to re-install cameras at a centrifuge-parts workshop in Iran.

He fears the agency will soon be unable to guarantee equipment is not being diverted to make atom bombs.

Mr Grossi told a news conference: “We are close to the point where I would not be able to guarantee continuity of knowledge.”

The IAEA has repeatedly said it has no indication that Iran has a secret weapons programme, and Iran insists its aims are peaceful.

But Mr Grossi said he still does not know whether Karaj is operational or not.

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