Iran election will not derail nuclear talks, Tehran says

Vienna negotiations set to restart on Thursday as Iran's presidential poll draws closer

Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Enrique Mora,
addresses the media as he leaves the 'Grand Hotel Wien' where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
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Iran's policy towards the 2015 nuclear deal and negotiations with world powers over how to restore it will continue regardless of the result in this month's presidential elections, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday.

Mr Rabiei said the policy of engaging with other participants in the agreement, including the US, was made by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and had support from the highest levels of the establishment.

This will not change when President Hassan Rouhani leaves office, he said.

Iranians are scheduled to go to the polls on June 18 to elect their next president, expected by many to be cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who is generally regarded as hostile to engagement with the US and the West.

The possibility of a hardline president had caused concern that were a new nuclear agreement not brokered before Mr Rouhani leaves office in August, any hope of diplomacy could be lost.

World powers are trying to broker an agreement between Iran and the US to revive the 2015 deal abandoned by former president Donald Trump in 2018 and ease economic sanctions on the Iran in exchange for it cutting back its atomic activities.

(FILES) In this file photo US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on as he meets with Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz, on June 3, 2021, at the State Department in Washington, DC. The United States, which has for two months been holding indirect talks with Iran on the future of the tattered nuclear deal, said on June 7, 2021 it was not even sure if Tehran really wanted to come back into compliance. "We've been engaged in indirect conversations, as you know, for the last couple of months, and it remains unclear whether Iran is willing and prepared to do what it needs to do to come back into compliance," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee."We're still testing that proposition," Blinken
 / AFP / POOL / Jacquelyn Martin
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there could be a breakout for Iranian nuclear technology 'in a matter of weeks'  AFP

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the importance and urgency of getting a deal with Iran, telling the House foreign relations committee that Iran could cut its nuclear weapon breakout time to "a matter of weeks" if it continues to escalate its breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The agreement pushed [breakout time] into a year or more. It’s now down, by published reports, to a few months at best," he said.

"And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks, exactly what we sought to avoid and what the agreement stopped.”

A sixth round of nuclear talks between Iran, the US and European nations is scheduled to start in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday. Negotiators took a brief break to head back to their home countries for consultations. News of the talks has thus far been optimistic, with both groups saying they are moving closer towards a resolution.