The Biden administration wants to finalize a deal with Iran to reenter the tattered 2015 nuclear deal within the next six weeks, all before the new Iranian new president-elect, Conservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is inaugurated, according to a new report from Axios.
Based on the report, officials are said to be “concerning” if talks dragged on into early August when Raisi is sworn into office. Analysts and some diplomats involved in the negotiations have said that it would be easier for those involved in the talks to reach a deal with the outgoing Iranian administration than with a newly inaugurated government, especially led by Raisi, who is a close ally to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“If we don’t have a deal before a new government is formed, I think that would raise serious questions about how achievable it’s going to be,” the official told Axios.
The U.S. official noted that such a timeline would be “concerning” not because of the incoming conservative government, but mostly due to how they believe that the longer the negotiations continue without a breakthrough, the lower the chances of success would occur.
“We don’t have infinite time to get this done. So I think we’ll know — I don’t want to give a timeline — but we’ll know it when time has run-up, and we’ve concluded that it can’t be reached within a reasonable time,” the official said.
The official added that Iran is “engaged seriously” while also noting that the deal could be reached within a few weeks. The U.S, according to the official, said it does not intend to continue negotiations for months and months, “and I think the Iranians would say the same.”
“Our whole view of this, informed by what we’re being told by the Iranians, is that the elections are not a factor, that the decision-making will continue before and after the elections, and so things will not be interrupted as a result of the election,” the official said.
“We’ll negotiate the same way we’ve been negotiating so far. What happens after his inauguration, that’s a different matter, but hopefully, we’ll get a deal before then. If not, we’ll have to consider.” the official added.
Iran has also said that it has no interest in “wasting time,” and the recent elections wouldn’t play a factor in the negotiating talks.
Six rounds of talks have been held so far in Vienna, with the U.S. not in the room but negotiating indirectly through European intermediaries. There has been slow progress towards resurrecting the 2015 deal after weeks of talks. Those involved in the Vienna discussions say an agreement could come together when talks resume next month if Tehran offers concessions, including Iran accepting that hundreds of the U.S. sanctions, including on alleged human-rights offenders—as well as the one imposed on Raisi, will remain in place once the accord is revived.
Western diplomats involved in the talks said such a deal could conclude all before Iran’s transition in early August. They believe that Iran’s conservatives would reap in all the economic and political benefits of sanctions relief the U.S. is bargaining to obtain the deal while blaming Housani for any of the deal’s shortcomings.
Raisi has said that he wants to return Iran to the nuclear deal to take advantage of its economic benefits, despite being seen as a more confrontational adversary to the West than the current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The hard-line judge was sanctioned by the Trump administration two years ago due to his close ties to Khamenei.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the United States is staying the course on negotiations to reinstate the Iran Nuclear Deal.
“I think what we need to do in the United States is keep our eye on the ball,” Sullivan told ABC ‘This Week’ host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “Our paramount priority right now is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve that, rather than military conflict.”
“We’re going to negotiate in a clear-eyed, firm way with the Iranians to see if we can arrive at an outcome that puts their nuclear program in a box,” Sullivan added.
When pressed about whether Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s suggestion over a deal could be made before the newly elected president takes office.
“Do you think Raisi’s election actually increases the chances of reaching a deal?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“The ultimate decision for whether or not to go back into the deal lies with Iran’s supreme leader, and he was the same person before this election as he is after the election,” Sullivan said.
Meanwhile, Israeli new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned the US and other nations seeking to rekindle the nuclear agreement with Iran to “wake up,” saying Raisi is a protege of Ayatollah Khamenei who would establish a “regime of brutal hangmen.”
“Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement and understand who they are doing business with,” Bennett said.
“A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction,” Bennett added. “Israel’s position will not change on this.”