As indirect negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal continue, Iran is hopeful that an agreement can be reached before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is out of office in August. The presidential elections in Iran will be held this month.
Ali Rabiei, a spokesman for Rouhani, said Tuesday there are “no obstacles” in the way of reaching a deal with the US in the talks that are ongoing in Vienna and that negotiators expect to finalize an agreement by August.
“We’re close to an understanding over principal nuclear issues,” Rabiei said. “Some differences such as Trump’s sanctions and Iran’s measures need to be worked out.” The Biden administration is complicating the talks because it refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions, so the two sides need to work out what sanctions the US is willing to lift.
While Rabiei sounded positive, other Iranian officials have been more cautious in their comments on the Vienna talks. On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that while “significant progress” has been made, “key differences” still remain.
In Vienna, Iran’s top negotiator Abbas Araqchi said he is not sure if the current round of talks will be the final one. “I am personally not sure that we will reach a conclusion in this round. However, we will continue our efforts. Delegations may need to go back to their countries once more for more consultations. No final decision has been reached yet,” he said.
Rouhani is expected to be replaced with a more hardline candidate. Western media portrays Iran’s hardliners as anti-JCPOA, but even the most hardline elements in Iran favor a return to the agreement if the US lifts sanctions. Because President Biden is not willing to do so, whoever replaces Rouhani might not be as patient with the US, and if a deal isn’t reached by August, little hope will remain for a JCPOA revival.