Iran’s presidential vote next week will likely replace a moderate with an ultra-conservative, but that shouldn’t derail the ongoing nuclear talks as there is a broad political consensus in Tehran for them to be successful, analysts say.
All major players in Tehran, regardless of their ideological leanings, are pragmatic enough to know that only by saving the tattered 2015 nuclear deal will the Islamic Republic be able to free itself from crippling US sanctions, contend. they.
The decision to try to revive the deal, taken under moderate President Hassan Rouhani, “now transcends factional struggles,” said Clément Therme, a researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
# photo1 ″ It is a compromise, between the survival of the regime by improving the degraded economic situation, and the desire to preserve the status quo on the political level, ”he told AFP.
New York-based Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome said Tehran appeared 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 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has given the green light both to the initial deal with a group of world powers and to efforts since April to revive it.
# photo2 The landmark deal offered Iran crucial sanctions relief in exchange for limits on what it says is a civilian nuclear program – but it has been on life support since Trump pulled the United States out of it in 2018 .
Trump’s economic and diplomatic “maximum pressure” campaign has plunged Iran into its deepest economic turmoil in decades and caused it to gradually reverse most of the limits of its nuclear program.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden has since backed diplomatic efforts to revive the deal, and U.S. officials indirectly joined talks in Vienna between Iran and other parties, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
– ‘Reap political benefits’ –
Rouhani, the architect of the deal, has come under heavy criticism from the conservative camp in recent years for trusting the West to negotiate a deal that Trump then tore up.
Ultraconservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who pledged to resolve Iran’s economic crisis, is now seen as the frontrunner to replace Rouhani in the June 18 elections, after many other candidates were barred from running.
Rouhani, who has served the maximum of two consecutive four-year terms allowed by 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 elections 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 on Tuesday. “It is therefore not linked to internal developments in the country and is managed by high-level bodies.
Iran has suffered greatly since Trump’s unilateral US withdrawal and pressure on European parties to economically isolate Iran as well.
Rather than benefit from an influx of foreign investment, Iran has seen its oil sales dry up and have been shut out of the international financial system.
The country of 83 million people has been hit by soaring inflation and rising unemployment that have fueled repeated waves of unrest in the streets.
Throughout this time, Iran has remained in the deal, even though it has moved away from its commitments, such as increasing uranium enrichment and suspending some inspections by the International Security Agency. atomic energy.
Now that a Biden presidency promises a chance of a turnaround, Tehran is unlikely to abandon its policy of “strategic patience”, analysts say.
The Eurasia Group said in a note that Raisi, the likely winner of the election, “has expressed support for a return to the nuclear deal, and he would most likely follow its implementation as president.”
If an agreement is not reached by August, “he will probably rush to conclude negotiations” afterwards, he said, in the hope of “reaping significant political benefits” from the resumption of oil sales. , access to frozen foreign exchange reserves and the revival of growth.
“It would give Raisi a substantial cushion during his first or two years in office. “
© 2021 AFP