An article in hardline Javan Online analyzes Russia’s potential responses if the Trump administration walks away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the nuclear deal Iran signed with the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain in 2015. The analysis piece, entitled “Russia and J.C.P.O.A. without America,” opines that Moscow will have several options but will most likely oppose U.S. unilateralism on the J.C.P.O.A. issue in order to challenge Washington and project power at the international stage. According to the article in Javan, which is a mouthpiece for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Moscow would tarnish its international reputation if it succumbs to U.S. pressure and accept Washington's plan to reinstate sanctions on Iran or cancel the nuclear accord. The article also alleges that Saudi King Salman’s recent visit to Moscow was an attempt by the kingdom to gain Russian President Vladimir Putin to isolate Iran – an effort the article believes will yield no results because Moscow needs Tehran to reassert its influence in the Middle East. Moscow will defy U.S. pressure to isolate Iran and contain Tehran’s influence in the Middle East the same way it defied U.S. demands regarding the Syrian issue, the piece adds.
Comment: While the Rouhani government is counting on European powers to keep the Iran deal alive (or at least minimize the impact of U.S. sanctions if Washington walks away from it), the I.R.G.C. and other hardliners remain highly skeptical of European countries and favor closer ties with Russia and China. In hardliners’ view, European powers have always sided with Washington to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic and they will do so in the future. They point to the recent cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in Syria and stress that the two countries can build upon that and become strategic partners. In contrast, pragmatists and reformists do support closer relations with Russia but remain doubtful about Moscow’s reliability. They say the Kremlin may at any time sacrifice Iran for its bigger geopolitical goals and could strike a grand bargain with the White House at the expense of Iran and Syria. Many reformists also indicate that Russia sided with the United States and its allies to impose sanctions on Iran in the past.