According to a report from Reuters published on Wednesday, Iran is not ready to resume negotiations to revive the nuclear deal until Ebrahim Raisi replaces President Hassan Rouhani in August.
The report cited an unnamed diplomatic source who said the Iranians conveyed this message to European officials brokering the indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran that have been ongoing in Vienna. “They are not prepared to come back before the new government,” the source said.
The report said it’s not clear if this means talks will resume after Raisi officially takes office, which will happen on August 5th, or when a new cabinet is formed. “We are now talking probably not before mid-August,” the source said.
A US State Department spokesperson confirmed with Reuters that Iran had requested more time to deal with its transition period. “We were prepared to continue negotiating, but the Iranians requested more time to deal with their presidential transition,” the spokesperson said. “When Iran is done with its process, we are prepared to plan our return to Vienna to continue with our talks.”
Hinting that the talks would be delayed, Rouahni said Wednesday that he hopes Raisi’s government can reach a deal with the US. Rouhani said the US “took away” his administration’s “opportunity” to revive the JCPOA. “We hope the 13th administration can finish this work,” he said, referring to the incoming government.
The JCPOA talks started in April, and the sixth round concluded on June 20th. Both sides tried to downplay the impact of Iran’s presidential election on the process, but it was clear that it would affect the negotiations in some way.
The Biden administration refuses to lift all Trump-era sanctions, forcing Iran to negotiate limited sanctions relief. Considering the major concession Iran would have to make to get the US to return to the JCPOA, it’s not surprising that Tehran doesn’t want to make the decision during a transition period.