Iran will not resume nuclear talks until Raisi takes over

Discussions expected to begin in August after the new president's inauguration

European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary General Enrique Mora and Iranian Deputy at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi wait for the start of talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria June 20, 2021. EU Delegation in Vienna/Handout via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Iran is not prepared to resume negotiations on coming back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal until President-elect Ebrahim Raisi's administration has begun, a diplomatic source has said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, said Iran had conveyed this to European officials acting as interlocutors in the indirect US-Iranian negotiations and that the current thinking is the Vienna talks will not resume before mid-August.

“They are not prepared to come back before the new government,” said the source, saying it was not clear whether this meant until Raisi formally takes over on Aug. 5 or until his government is in place.

“We are now talking probably not before mid-August,” added the source.

Talks began in April on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but have appeared stuck since their sixth round ended on June 20, with no sign when they may resume.

The agreement, which Democratic former president Barack Obama negotiated and Republican former president Donald Trump abandoned, struck a balance, with Iran accepting limits to its nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions.

A US State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Iran had asked for more time because of its presidential transition.

“We were prepared to continue negotiating but the Iranians requested more time to deal with their presidential transition,” said the State Department spokeswoman.

“When Iran is done with its process, we are prepared to plan our return to Vienna to continue with our talks,” she added. “We remain interested in seeking mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, though as [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] has made clear, this offer will not be on the table indefinitely.”

Updated: July 15, 2021, 8:59 AM