AKTAU, Kazakhstan – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the four countries that share the Caspian Sea – Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – will defend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement from which the United States withdrew.
“The countries of the Caspian have emphasized the defense of the JCPOA as a valuable agreement,” Rouhani said in an address to the 5th Caspian Sea Summit in the Kazakh city of Aktau.
The Iranian leader said the four countries linked by the Caspian Sea “have come out against the unilateral actions that some countries are carrying out today,” a reference to the United States, which imposed sanctions on Tehran in addition to pulling out of the nuclear agreement.
The nuclear agreement also bolsters regional cooperation and relations between the five countries whose leaders signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea on Sunday.
Negotiating the convention took more than two decades, partly due to Iran’s position that clear boundaries should be established.
“In our opinion, the Convention on the Caspian Sea proposed for signing does not definitively establish the boundaries of the sea, so the negotiations between our countries should continue. It will be necessary to add an accord on this matter,” Rouhani said.
The Iranian leader, however, said the convention establishes that countries on the Caspian will not have a military presence in its waters.
“The construction of military bases and the presence of foreign military ships in the Caspian are prohibited. We have taken a very important step,” Rouhani said.
The document signed on Sunday incorporates the principles that will govern the activities of the signatory nations on the Caspian Sea, as well as matters related to the delimitation of territorial waters and the seabed, navigation, environmental conservation and security.
The Caspian, the largest lake in the world with an area of 370,886 sq. kilometers, was shared by Moscow and Tehran under the 1921 and 1940 treaties until the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The emergence of three new coastal states – the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan – forced the rethinking of the Caspian partition and its vast hydrocarbons reserves.