Raisi elections will not derail nuclear deals in Iran, Western powers say

Western powers voted over the weekend to move forward with efforts aimed at reviving the Iranian nuclear deal as the capitals pledged to remove the implications of the US election. Ibrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and head of justice, as president of Iran.

On Sunday, negotiators in Vienna announced talks aimed at restoring the agreement. In Brussels, the EU said it was ready to work with the new Iranian government, insisting that “it is important that intense diplomatic efforts continue to bring the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] back on track. “

U.S. officials insisted Sunday that the election of a tough president had not diminished the Biden administration’s desire to revive the Iranian nuclear pact.

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, told ABC News: “Our first priority is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We believe diplomacy is the best way. to achieve, rather than a military conflict. And so, we will have to deal clearly and firmly with the Iranians to see if we can reach a result that puts their nuclear program in the box. ”

He added that Iran’s top leader would be the person who will decide, in the end, whether the country will return to the nuclear deal, not the country’s president.

Ma Naftali Bennett, The new right-wing prime minister of Israel, which took office last week, warned Sunday that it was “the last chance for the world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear deal, and to understand who they are doing business with.”

Speaking at his first cabinet meeting, he added: “These guys are assassins, mass murderers. A regime of brutally hanged men should never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will allow them to kill thousands, but millions. ”

Israel has been relentlessly opposed to the resurrection of the nuclear deal with Iran. He sees Iran’s hand behind its main opponents in the region – Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite faction and Lebanon’s largest political and military force.

Raisi will take office in early August after winning the election on Friday, replacing Hassan Rouhani. Iran has sought to restore the 2015 nuclear deal and shake off U.S. sanctions. The election gives the kingdom’s rulers full control of all branches of the state, launching a further layer of uncertainty over an already complex process.

Raisi said during his campaign that his government will continue nuclear negotiations, and Iranian analysts say the regime needs sanctions so that the incoming president has no chance of fulfilling his promise to alleviate economic difficulties in the republic. .

But an insider of the regime told the FT that the hardliners would like to negotiate on their terms and would not change on Tehran’s insistence that Iran support the militant groups throughout the region and the expansion of its increasingly sophisticated missile program is not in negotiation.

Raisi is much more in line with the thinking of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader who has the final say on all major foreign policy and security decisions, than Rouhani, who signed the nuclear deal in 2015. and sought to improve ties with the West.

A Raisi government is unlikely to try to cool relations with the United States beyond resolving the nuclear stand-off. Former US President Donald Trump left the deal in 2018 and handed over sanctions to Iran.

Since Tehran has transgressed the limits of the uranium enrichment agreement, fueling anxiety in European capitals over the prospects of the pact, under which Iran accepted brakes on its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of several international sanctions.

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a visitor to the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the electoral victory should not have an immediate impact on the Vienna negotiations, adding that the US return to the nuclear deal has remained in place. Iran’s strategic interests.

But he warned that victory would change the trajectory of diplomacy in the medium term. Raisi’s administration is unlikely to pursue such a deal “further”, and Raisi’s personal history and possible conduct of his administration could lead to objections to wider negotiations between several in the West, citing concerns on human rights “.

Negotiators for Iran and six remaining signatories – the EU, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China – have been seeking since April to understand how to restore the agreement and pave the way for the United States to meet. ,

A U.S. State Department spokesman said: “Our Iranian policy is aimed at advancing the interests of the United States, regardless of who is in power. We would like to commend on the significant progress made during the last round. of negotiations in Vienna “.

Additional reports from Michael Peel in Brussels

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