Russia’s Strategic Communications on an Iran Nuclear Agreement?

By: LTC Jussi Puustinen, FIN Army, CSAG CCJ5
21 Jan 2022


Russia has been very consistent about its messaging on the possibility of the re-establishment of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA). Russia is supporting narrative about Iran’s willingness to return to the nuclear deal. In this case, Russia uncommonly shares the views with the US, Europe and Chinese, but the need to return to negotiations. When a situation presents opportunities that suits Russian interests, it can side with countries that are in fact its opponents, and this is one of those situations.

As early as March 2021, the Russian Foreign Minister said: “The first issue is that Iran wants all sanctions to be lifted first and then return to its obligations. But the United States has stated that Iran must first implement its obligations under JCPOA, and then Washington will decide on its obligations.” The minister added that “the second issue is the so-called JCPOA Plus, which is suggests including Iran’s missile program changes should be made to the original JCPOA, including the issue of Iran’s missile program. We believe that such an approach would lead to a stalemate, Russia wants the revival of JCPOA without any changes.” These statements demonstrate how Russia presents itself as the rational and reasonable mediator for the Vienna talks, and at the same time supporting Iran to bolster its strategic aims in the region.

Key Points:

  • Russia has been very consistent on messaging the following four key messages on an Iran nuclear agreement: return to negotiations; sanctions against Iran should be lifted; the original JCPOA is the only deal possible; and no other conditions should be included.
  • Russia finds itself in a rare situation by siding with European countries and being seen as a reasonable party.
  • Russia’s strategic communications goals center on being recognized as a superpower.
  • With strategic communications and the possibility of an Iran nuclear deal, Russia supports its own strategy in the Middle East.
  • Russian messaging about Iran nuclear agreement also serves to deflect its negatively viewed actions in Ukraine and Syria.


Read the complete paper here.


The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.