World Iran nuclear talks will survive presidential vote: analysts
Opinion: The bad news about Iran's presidential candidates
David A. Andelman writes that the list of candidates for Iran's June 18 presidential election is worse than anyone hoping for a moderate leader could have imagined. Ebrahim Raisi, the country's hard-line chief justice, is expected to be a shoo-in -- and his election could make it harder, if not impossible, for the US to return to the multinational deal on Iran's nuclear program.The list of candidates for the June 18 Iranian presidential election is out, and it's worse than anyone hoping for a moderate leader could have imagined. The top candidate is the chief justice of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, a thorough hard-liner and the favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iran's presidential vote next week will likely replace a moderate with an ultraconservative, but this shouldn't derail ongoing nuclear talks because there is a broad political consensus in Tehran that they should succeed, analysts say.
All major players in Tehran, whatever their ideological leanings, are pragmatic enough to know that only by saving the tattered 2015 nuclear deal can the Islamic republic free itself from crippling US sanctions, they argue.
The decision to try to revive the agreement, struck under moderate President Hassan Rouhani, now "transcends factional struggles," said Clement Therme, a researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
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The decision to retain a low-yield warhead that was outfitted on submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 2019, and to initiate research into a new sea-launched cruise missile, has sparked an outcry.The decision to retain a low-yield warhead that was outfitted on submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 2019, and to initiate research into a new sea-launched cruise missile, has sparked an outcry from arms control advocates and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which is vowing a fight to reverse the momentum.
"It is a trade-off, between the survival of the regime through improving the deteriorated economic situation, and the desire to preserve the status quo on the political level," he told AFP.
Analyst Henry Rome of the New York-based Eurasia Group said Tehran appears determined to revive the deal torpedoed by former US president Donald Trump because "for Iran, sanctions relief is a strategic necessity".
Ultimate political power in Iran rests with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who gave the green light to both the original agreement with a group of world powers, and to efforts since April to revive it.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s plan to rehabilitate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal gives away leverage needed to curtail the regime’s general aggression, according to a top Senate Democrat. © Provided by Washington Examiner Blinken faced probing questions from his own party as he toured several congressional committees to defend the State Department budget request.
The landmark accord offered Iran crucial sanctions relief in return for limits on what it says is a civilian nuclear programme -- but it has been on life support since Trump withdrew the United States from it in 2018.
Trump's economic and diplomatic "maximum pressure" campaign has plunged Iran into its deepest economic turmoil in decades, and led it to progressively walk back from most of the limits on its nuclear programme.
Trump's successor Joe Biden has since backed diplomatic efforts to revive the accord, and US officials have indirectly joined talks in Vienna between Iran and the other parties, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
How States Can Respond if Biden Lifts Iran Sanctions
Republican governors and legislatures have some effective tools at their disposal.Last month, the Republican Study Committee unveiled the “Max Pressure Act,” putting most House Republicans on record opposing U.S. reentry to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and pledging to reimpose maximum pressure on Iran whenever the power pendulum of Washington swings back to the GOP. In the Senate, a series of bills, resolutions, and letters signal a Republican Caucus united against the Iran nuclear deal — with sanctions amendments to must-pass legislation still possible later this year.
- 'Reap political benefits' -
Rouhani, the architect of the deal, has in recent years weathered heavy criticism from the conservative camp for having trusted the West in negotiating an agreement that Trump then ripped up.
Ultraconservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who has pledged to resolve Iran's economic crisis, is now seen as the frontrunner to replace Rouhani in the June 18 election, after many other candidates were barred from running.
Rouhani, who has served the maximum of two consecutive four-year terms allowed under the constitution, remains in office until August, and hopes for a deal in Vienna before then.
A spokesman for his outgoing government, Ali Rabii, also stressed that the election will not change Iran's basic position in the complex talks.
"The nuclear issue (is the subject) of a consensus within the Islamic Republic," he said Tuesday. "It is therefore not linked to the country's internal developments and is handled by high-level bodies."
Senate Republicans Introduce Bill Requiring Congressional Approval for New Iran Deal
Republicans proposed legislation Friday that would require President Joe Biden to secure congressional approval before a new nuclear deal is forged with Iran. © Lisi Niesner/Reuters The Iranian flag waves in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. The bill stipulates that any agreement arrived at with the help of the Biden administration must be deemed a treaty and therefore receive Senate approval in accordance with the Constitution, according to a copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Iran has suffered badly since Trump's unilateral US withdrawal and pressure on European parties to also economically isolate Iran.
Rather than enjoying an influx of foreign investment, Iran saw crucial oil sales dry up and was shut out of the international financial system.
The country of 83 million has been battered by galloping inflation and rising unemployment which have stoked repeated waves of unrest on the streets.
Throughout, Iran has stayed in the agreement, even as it has taken steps away from its commitments, such as increasing uranium enrichment and suspending certain inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Now that a Biden presidency promises a chance for a turnaround, Tehran is unlikely to abandon its policy of "strategic patience", say analysts.
The Eurasia Group said in a note that Raisi, the likely election winner, "has expressed support for a return to the nuclear accord, and he would very likely follow through on its implementation as president".
If a deal is not agreed before August, "he would probably move swiftly to wrap up negotiations" after, it said, hoping to "reap significant political benefits" from renewed oil sales, access to frozen foreign exchange reserves and revived growth.
"This would give Raisi a substantial cushion in his first year or two in office."
Iran's presidential election puts new pressure on US nuclear talks .
The outcome of Iran's presidential election on Friday is likely to pose a significant challenge for the U.S. as it pushes Tehran to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal.The Biden administration is intent on bringing the U.S. back into the Obama-era deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that former President Trump exited in 2018.U.S. officials have stressed that weeks of indirect talks with Iran in Vienna are proving productive and meaningful, but Iran's presidential contest has loomed over the discussions.