0140 GMT December 16, 2019
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters at a briefing in Tehran that the Russian airstrikes on terrorists in Syria were "temporary, based on a Russian request."
"Russia has no base in Iran and is not stationed here. They did this and it is finished for now," Qassemi pointed out.
He added that no deal had been struck between Iran and Russia concerning the deployment of Russian fighter jets to the Nojeh Airbase in the western city of Hamadan, explaining that Iran had reached “a sort of understanding” with Russia over joint efforts to fight terrorism in the region.
“We had a sort of understanding with the Russian side to conduct joint measures. One of them (the measures) was to allow the Russians, with permits and prior notification and a request by the Russians, to use Iranian space and facilities so they can fight in the insecure region of Syria, something we want, too,” the spokesman said.
He said Tehran-Moscow relations are strategic “in some fields,” noting that such ties have grown over the past few years.
“What destabilizes the region is of concern to us. Iran’s security is of significance to us, and we spare no effort in ensuring the country’s security,” he said.
The comments came after Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan criticized Moscow for having "showing-off and ungentlemanly" attitude by publicizing the use of the airbase to refuel its bombers striking Syria at least three times last week.
Last week, Russia announced its long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used the airfield to launch airstrikes against terror groups in Syria.
Earlier Monday, Dehqan said that Russia "will use the base for a very short and fixed span."
Responding to a question about why Iran didn't initially announce Russia's presence at the airfield, Dehqan said on the national TV broadcast: "Russians are interested in showing that they are a superpower in order to guarantee their share in the political future of Syria and, of course, there has been a kind of showing-off and ungentlemanly (attitude) in this regard," he said.
He noted that there is "no written agreement" between the two countries; the "operational cooperation" is temporary and limited to refueling.
Anti-Iran measurers futile
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saudi Arabia’s actions against Iran will “lead nowhere.”
Asked about reports in the pro-Saudi media claiming that the Saudi ambassador to Iraq has been the target of an assassination plot, Qassemi said Saudi Arabia is “seriously delusional.”
He said Riyadh faces “serious internal and external problems,” which he said sometimes prompt the Saudi regime to act in an unwise and emotional way.
“It is no surprise that Saudi Arabia raises such issues (the terror plot) to cover up its failure in Yemen, Syria and other places,” he said.
Qassemi further pointed to ties between Iran and Turkey, saying the two neighbors share a great deal of commonalities, and that their viewpoints may gradually converge on several current issues of disagreement.
He referred to a recent surprise visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Tehran and said Iranian and Turkish officials exchanged viewpoints on a raft of issues, including the Syrian conflict, during the visit.
Tehran and Ankara support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.
While admitting the recent convergence between Turkey and Russia, Qassemi said it was too soon to conclude that ongoing interactions between Iran, Russia and Turkey would lead to some form of trilateral cooperation.
He explained that Iran has defined its relations with Russia in a manner that is different from how Tehran has defined its ties with Ankara. “This is while,” he said, “Turkey and Russia will certainly witness the emergence of new relations between [the two of] them following the crises they have experienced.”
A coup was unsuccessfully attempted in Turkey on July 15. Following the failed putsch, Ankara began gravitating toward Russia, mending fences with Moscow after a row over the shooting down of a Russian aircraft over Syria back in November 2015.
Qassemi said Iran welcomes the thaw in Russo-Turkish relations.