Hatami made the remarks upon arrival in the Russian capital on Saturday at the head of a high-ranking military delegation for a visit which comes as a UN arms embargo on Iran is about to expire in October.
Asked about his evaluation of Tehran-Moscow defense cooperation, Hatami replied, “The military cooperation between Iran and Russia is completely progressive and we have passed important phases in cooperation between the two countries.”
Although the coronavirus outbreak has affected bilateral ties to some extent this year, his overall assessment is that “the cooperation between the two countries is quite positive and progressive,” he added.
The defense minister also referred to joint military exercises between Iran, Russia and China which were held north of the Indian Ocean and the Oman Sea in December 2019.
Asked about the possibility of more trilateral war games, he said, “We are interested in holding drills based on the situation created by the coronavirus and the health protocols that exist.”
Elsewhere in his comments, Hatami outlined his plans during the trip, among them a visit to the sixth International Military and Technical Forum “Army-2020” and talks with Russian officials on regional and bilateral issues as well as military and technological cooperation.
“This trip is a great opportunity for us given that Russia is a friendly country, with which cooperation is increasing,” he added.
On Sunday, Hatami met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu at Patriot Park, located 55 kilometers from Moscow.
Iran envoy: Military cooperation to reach new levels
Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali said that Tehran-Moscow military cooperation is constantly accelerating and "will reach new levels” with the visit of the Iranian defense minister.
He also hailed the Kremlin's efforts aimed at defending the upcoming lifting of the UN arms embargo on Iran.
By voting down the US resolution on continuing the Iranian arms ban, Russia “showed that it opposes illegal and futile actions by the United States,” Jalali said.
The embargo — in place since 2006/2007 — will expire on October 18 under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The US proposed a resolution to keep the ban in place beyond its expiration. However, in the 15-member Security Council vote on August 14, Washington received support only from the Dominican Republic for its anti-Iran motion, leaving it far short of the minimum nine "yes" votes required for adoption.
Russia and China voted against the resolution and the remaining 11 council members, including France, Germany and the UK, abstained.