Iran, Russia Ink 14 MOUs
Putin said in televised comments after meeting Rouhani that trade
between the countries had “grown more than 70 percent” last year.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani paid a two-day state visit to Moscow where
he met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a range of
bilateral and regional issues. The trip (March 27-28) took place during one
of the most important periods in Iran-Russia relationship.
It was Rouhani’s first official visit to Moscow, and technically the first
time the two leaders met within a purely bilateral framework. Although it
was the ninth time Putin and Rouhani had met face to face, their previous
meetings were held either on the sidelines of international events, such as
the UN General Assembly meeting, or in the context of multilateral
initiatives. The last time they met was on Aug. 8, 2016, when they joined
their Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev for a trilateral summit in Baku.
Putin’s only visit to Tehran during the past 10 years took place on Nov. 23,
2015, for a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.
All in all, though the close relationship between Iran and Russia is not
dependent on specific administrations being in power in either country, and
has so far been on a rather stable path, the current state of affairs in
both countries assigned a greater degree of importance to Rouhani’s visit to
In a brief statement to the press before his departure to Moscow, Rouhani
said Iran has offered a number of oil and gas fields to the Russian
companies. He expressed hope that the development of Russian-Iranian
cooperation in the energy sector will speed up.
The delegation accompanying Rouhani included First Vice-President Eshaq
Jahangiri, adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on international issues Ali
Akbar Velayati, the ministers of foreign affairs, oil, trade, information
and communication technologies, as well as the governor of the Central Bank
Tehran, Moscow Ink 14 MOUs
Russia and Iran signed (March 28) a string of bilateral agreements in Moscow
after a meeting between Putin and Rouhani, who have grown closer through
their mutual support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. The agreements
mostly focused on flourishing economic ties in the fields of energy and
Putin said in televised comments after meeting Rouhani that trade between
the countries had “grown more than 70 percent” last year. “This is truly a
good result considering that it was achieved in unstable global conditions
and amid persistent volatility on the commodity and currency markets,” Putin
A joint statement issued by the Kremlin said that “special attention” had
been paid to cooperation in energy, with both sides pledging to continue
efforts to stabilize the international market.
The joint statement covered a variety of issues including the Iran Nuclear
Deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), unilateral
sanctions, cyberattacks, the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq’s territorial
integrity, global energy balance, etc. They also discussed joint development
of large hydrocarbon fields, export credit extension to Iran, Bushehr
Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), aircraft and helicopter sale to Iran, easing visa
restrictions and Iran’s membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Russia and Iran emphasized the importance of international transit routes in
bilateral and multilateral trade-economic cooperation and confirmed the
intent to continue the practical steps to realize the North-South
international transport corridor, read the statement. It stressed the
importance of ramping up efforts to connecting Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railway
line to this route [North-South] as soon as possible.
The high-ranking delegations of Iran and Russia signed 14 cooperation
documents in various political, economic, judicial, legal, scientific and
cultural fields in the presence of Rouhani and Putin.
National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Russian top gas producer Gazprom
signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the field of
The parties expressed their willingness to cooperate to ensure peace,
stability and security in the Caspian region, and develop shipping, transit
and multimodal transportation, sustainable development, environmental
protection, the conservation and management of water and biological
resources, combating oil pollution, tourism and marine scientific research,
In addition, the two presidents expressed their willingness to work together
to expand their cooperation in the political, economic and other areas in
the South Caucasus and Central Asia in order to strengthen peace and
stability in these regions.
The first block of
Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant reached the design capacity and
documents for construction of the second and the third blocks
are being coordinated, Putin said.
Global Energy Balance
Russia and Iran also pledged to continue efforts to rein in oil production
and stabilize markets, said the statement.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other large
oil producers, led by Russia, had agreed in December to cut their combined
output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to reduce bloated oil
inventories and support prices.
Iran, however, successfully argued that it should not limit production that
was slowly starting to recover after the lifting of international sanctions
in January last year.
“Russia and Iran will continue cooperation in this sphere (in oil output
cuts) in order to stabilize the global energy market and ensure stable
economic growth,” the statement said.
Russia has pledged to cut oil output by 300,000 bpd in the first half of the
On March 26, OPEC and non-OPEC oil ministers, including Russian Energy
Minister Alexander Novak, discussed the implementation of the December deal
but stopped short of recommending that cuts be extended into the second half
of the year.
Earlier, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh told reporters in Moscow that a
global deal is likely to be extended, but time was needed to discuss the
“It seems that most of the OPEC and non-OPEC (countries) are going to extend
the agreement, but time is needed to evaluate the situation and to have
face-to-face meetings and discussions with others,” Zangeneh said.
Asked whether Iran would be ready to cut its own output under the possible
extension, Zangeneh said: “I think it is necessary that all members comply
with their commitments.”
Iran’s oil production stands close to 3.8 million bpd, he said.
Development of Large Hydrocarbon Fields
Russian companies have reached agreements on development of major
hydrocarbon fields in Iran.
“We see good potential to broaden interaction in the oil and gas sector.
Leading Russian companies reached a series of important agreements on
development of large hydrocarbon fields in Iran,” the Russian leader said.
Export Credits Extension
Russia informed Iran about completion of internal procedures for extension
of two export credits to Iran.
“The Russian party informed Iran about completion of domestic government
procedures required for entry into force of the agreement between the two
governments on extension of a state export credit for Iran to finance
construction of a thermal power plant and the agreement on provision of a
state export credit for Iran to finance electrification of Garmsar-Inceburun
railway segment, signed in Tehran on December 13, 2016,” the statement said.
Implementation of projects stipulated by these agreements will promote
investment and trade-economic cooperation between Russia and Iran, the
Furthermore, Putin and Rouhani stressed “importance of more active interbank
cooperation, including between central banks, and importance of using
national currencies in mutual settlements.”
Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant
The first block of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant reached the design capacity
and documents for construction of the second and the third blocks are being
coordinated, Putin said.
Russia is providing significant aid to Iran in the nuclear sphere, he noted.
“Our interaction is implemented in strict compliance with the international
law, IAEA requirements and subject to all provisions of the comprehensive
action plan in respect of Iran’s nuclear program,” Putin added.
SSJ-100 Aircraft and Helicopters Deliveries
Moscow and Tehran discussed an opportunity of supplying SSJ-100 aircraft and
helicopters to Iran.
“Ways of expanding cooperation in machine-building and in the civil aviation
sector were discussed during negotiations. Potential deliveries of modern
medium-range Sukhoi SuperJet-100 aircraft to Iran and helicopters for
national ambulance aviation are on the agenda,” Putin said.
Putin and Rouhani support the idea to hold a bilateral forum on
inter-regional cooperation until the year ends.
“The parties pointed to a high level of cooperation between the regions of
Russia and Iran and stated their intention to fully support this field of
interaction,” the statement read. “Putin and Rouhani upheld the idea to
arrange a Russian-Iranian forum on inter-regional cooperation either in
Astrakhan or Sari before the end of 2017. Regional heads and representatives
of the two countries’ business circles could attend the forum,” the
Easing Visa Restrictions
Moscow and Tehran will consider further joint steps aimed at easing visa
restrictions for certain categories of Russian and Iranian citizens.
“Putin and Rouhani welcome the signing of the Agreement on visa-free group
tours that aims at boosting cultural and humanitarian cooperation between
Russia and Iran as well as at creating conditions for boosting tourist
exchange,” the statement adds. According to the document, “the presidents
handed down instructions to consider further joint steps to remove
administrative barriers hampering trips of certain categories of citizens.”
Russia supports Iran’s plans to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
“The Russia side confirmed its support for Iran’s membership bid in the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization and spoke in favor of the swift
consideration of this application,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the two presidents focused on the importance of
strengthening Russian-Iranian cooperation not only within the SCO but also
in other multilateral regional formats. Apart from that, with an aim of
enhancing peace and stability in Central Asia and South Caucasus, Moscow and
Tehran “confirmed their readiness to expand cooperation in these regions in
the political, economic and other spheres and stressed their commitment to
cooperation in multilateral formats involving other regional nations.”
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a permanent regional
association founded in Shanghai, China, on June 15, 2001 by six nations,
namely Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its
priority tasks include joint counteraction to terrorism and extremism;
cooperation in education as well as in the energy, oil and gas, transport,
communication and other spheres. In 2015, a decision was taken to grant
full-fledged membership to India and Pakistan. Iran has been enjoying an
observer nation status since 2005.