Biden administration officials are downplaying the idea that Iran’s presidential election will impact negotiations to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. But the election of Ebrahim Raisi, a judge under US sanctions who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, might give President Biden the excuse to blame the failure to salvage the JCPOA on Tehran.
While he’s viewed as a hardliner, Raisi has endorsed the negotiations with the US and favors a revival of the JCPOA if the US lifts sanctions. The issue is, the Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions. The current government of Hassan Rouhani is negotiating what sanctions the US is willing to lift. Limited sanctions relief might not be acceptable to Raisi since Washington violated the deal in the first place.
Rouhani has little to show for negotiating the JCPOA and trusting the US. Meanwhile, Iran remains under crippling economic sanctions, and the people are suffering. Raisi’s position on the JCPOA might be portrayed as a hardline one by Western media, but any clear-eyed observer could have predicted Iran’s next president would not be so patient with Washington.
Sources told Iran’s PressTV that the US still refuses to lift sanctions that would bring the US back into compliance with the JCPOA. The report said the US also hasn’t agreed to any verification methods and has not agreed on any safeguards to prevent another US withdrawal from the deal. Rouhani’s government has previously rebuked PressTV sources on the negotiations, but it doesn’t appear that there’s been any pushback over this latest report.
On top of the situation with the JCPOA, the US is stoking tensions with Tehran by slamming Iran’s electoral process. After the vote, a US State Department spokesperson said, “Iranians were denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process.” Iran denounced the US criticism as interference.
“We consider this statement as an example of interference in Iran’s internal affairs. We condemn it,” said Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei. “The US government is not in a position to comment on the electoral process in Iran or any other country.”
The US took its hostility against Iran even further on Tuesday and seized US-based domains for Iranian media outlets, including PressTV, for reasons that remain unclear. The US also seized the domain for Al-Masirah TV, a media outlet aligned with Yemen’s Houthis.
The sixth round of JCPOA talks between the US and Iran concluded on Sunday without signs of significant progress. Despite the constant US hostility against Iran — not to mention Israel’s — and its refusal to lift sanctions, if the negotiations fail, the US will blame Iran and Raisi, who will take office in August. Judging by President Biden’s initial hesitation to enter talks with Iran or offer any concessions, this could have been the plan all along.