Moscow boosts ties with Tehran as US-Iran tensions escalate

Al-Monitor | Daniel Hoffman: While Iran and Russia are trying to limit US influence in the Middle East, the United States lacks the leverage to counter China’s and Russia’s growing influence in the region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Moscow last month for the third time in the past six months for meetings with senior Russian officials. Although they have often been adversaries since first establishing diplomatic relations in the 16th century, Iran and Russia are purposely seeking to develop an increasingly close bilateral relationship.

Currently the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East and with its economy in shambles after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement and applied a “maximum pressure” campaign, Iran rejected the US offer to negotiate lifting sanctions in return for a new agreement that would remove nuclear program sunset clauses and address Iran’s state-sponsored terrorism and ballistic missile program.

Iran chose instead to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and engage in state-sponsored terrorism, with an eye toward inducing the other JCPOA signatories to support its demand for a return to the flawed JCPOA as a precursor to negotiations.

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