U.S. still engaging with Russia on Iran deal despite Ukraine - U.S. official

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The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - The United States continues to engage with Russia on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday, saying Moscow may now grasp that Ukraine-related sanctions should not affect the accord's implementation.

Washington would not sanction Russian participation in nuclear projects that are part of the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), when it is fully implemented, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said U.S. suggestions that Moscow was blocking efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal were untrue, following talks with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian in Moscow.

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Lavrov said Russia had received written U.S. assurances that sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine would not hinder cooperation within the framework of the deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

"We continue to engage with Russia on a return to full implementation of the JCPOA," the senior U.S. State Department official said when asked about Lavrov's comments. "We would of course not sanction Russian participation in nuclear projects that are part of resuming full implementation of the JCPOA."

"We cannot provide assurances beyond that to Russia and have no comment on (Foreign Minister) Lavrov’s publicly reported remarks," the official added. "Perhaps it is now clear to Moscow that, as we have said publicly, the new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its implementation."

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Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell

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