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Iran’s election of hardline president unsettles Biden’s hope for a nuclear deal

14 7 0
22.06.2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — Biden administration officials are insisting that the election of a hardliner as Iran’s president won’t affect prospects for reviving the faltering 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. But there are already signs that their goal of locking in a deal just got tougher.

Optimism that a deal was imminent has faded as the latest talks ended Sunday without tangible indications of significant progress. And on Monday, in his first public comments since the vote, incoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi rejected a key Biden goal of expanding on the nuclear deal if negotiators are able to salvage the old one.

At the same time, Raisi is likely to raise Iran’s demands for sanctions relief in return for Iranian compliance with the deal, as he himself is already subject to US human rights penalties.

“I don’t envy the Biden team,” said Karim Sadjapour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has advised multiple US administrations on Iran. “I think the administration now has a heightened sense of urgency to revise the deal before Raisi and a new hardline team is inaugurated.”

US President Joe Biden and his team have made a US return to the deal one of their top foreign policy priorities. The deal was one of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements, one that aides now serving in the Biden administration had helped negotiate and that Donald Trump repudiated and tried to dismantle as president.

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Despite Raisi’s impending presidency, Biden administration officials insist prospects for reaching an agreement are unaltered. They argue that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who signed off on the 2015 deal known as........

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