Russia’s Putin in Iran for talks, offers support for nuclear deal

World Today

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Putin arrived Wednesday for trilateral talks with Tehran and Azerbaijan, a meeting that comes as the Islamic Republic’s nuclear deal is threatened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to re-certify the accord.(Dmitry Azarov, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday strongly backed Iran and its nuclear deal with world powers, saying Moscow opposed “any unilateral change” to the accord after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to re-certify it.

Putin made the comments on a one-day trip to Tehran for trilateral talks between Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia, a meeting largely focused on improving road and rail links to the neighboring countries on the Caspian Sea.

However, the nuclear deal loomed large as Putin met with both Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who easily won re-election this year after securing the atomic deal, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.

“We oppose any unilateral change in the multilateral nuclear deal,” Putin said while meeting Khamenei, according to a statement from the supreme leader’s office. “We oppose linking Iran’s nuclear program with other issues including defensive issues.”

Moscow has stood by Tehran while Trump has refused to re-certify the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, including Russia. The other parties to the accord — Britain, China, France, Germany and the European Union — have also urged Trump to stay in the deal.

The U.S. Congress now will make a decision regarding the 2015 nuclear deal, in which Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In recent days, lawmakers have targeted Iran with new sanctions over its ballistic missile program, which wasn’t included in the deal but which American officials say violates the spirit of the accord.

Khamenei praised Putin’s “strong” character.

“Because of this reason, it is possible to have logical dialogue and cooperation with Russia as a big power about big jobs that require determination and effort,” the supreme leader said.

Moreover, Russia and Iran have both provided crucial support to President Bashar Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war, something Rouhani praised during his meeting with Putin.

“Iranian and Russian cooperation has had a great impact in fighting terrorism in the region,” Rouhani said, according to a statement from his office. “The joint cooperation and consultations are very important in the final stages too.”

Iran allowed Russia access to its air bases last year to bomb targets in Syria. But that struck a nerve in Iran, whose constitution bars foreign militaries from having bases in the country.

Story by the Associated Press.