The major powers have met again in Vienna in an attempt to revive the nuclear deal with Iran, complicated by the election as president of Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line conservative cleric deeply antagonistic to Western values.
Israel immediately denounced the incoming Raisi government as a “brutal executioner regime” for its involvement in mass executions in 1988 and predicted that it would be a pawn in the hands of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
“Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before going back to the nuclear deal and to understand who they are doing business with,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
“A regime of brutal executioners must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction. Israel’s position will not change on this. “
Senior diplomats from China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Russia will meet in the Austrian capital for the first time since Raisi’s election to evaluate the 2015 agreement. The United States withdrew under Donald Trump and Iran violated the terms of the agreement by enriching uranium above allowable levels. The United States has said it will rejoin on terms that will generally see it loosen sanctions and Iran will return to its original commitments.
Iranian diplomats, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, insist they have the same negotiating mandate as before and say a deal could be reached long before Raisi takes power in early August, as neither of the remaining obstacles is insurmountable. Raisi himself said in the election campaign that he supported the agreement.
Some Western diplomats claim that Iran was stalling in months-long talks to ensure the outgoing reformist government could not claim credit for restoring the agreement and lifting US sanctions before the elections. These diplomats claim that with the reformists now defeated inside Iran, the revived accord will be quickly agreed upon.
But others claim that the same difficult issues remain unsolved, including how the United States can ensure that it will not abandon the deal again, how Iran handles the knowledge and assets it has developed while breaching the terms of the deal, should the Iranian parliament line up. hard may delay Iran. Comply with the terms of the agreement until the lifting of US sanctions and, finally, the precise basket of US sanctions to be lifted. The United States lifted some sanctions on Friday to allow humanitarian food and medicine to reach the country.
They also point out that Iranian conservatives have called the original nuclear deal “a stinking corpse” and “a national humiliation,” so they will have to execute a delicate political pirouette to claim the restart of the deal as a political triumph.
Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, imposing maximum economic sanctions on Iran, politically torpedoing the reformist government led by Hassan Rouhani, partly creating the context for Raisi to win the election.
Raisi, 60, the current head of the judiciary, won a landslide victory with 18 million votes in a contest that prevented serious rivals from running, but the result was weakened by a collapse in voting that left him behind. the real share closer to 43%. , instead of the official 48% that was already the lowest recorded in the history of the Islamic republic.
The votes cast included 4 million spoiled ballots, well above the normal rate and suggesting a conscious decision by large numbers of Iranians to go to the polls to register their protest against the regime and the limited election on the ballot of voting, raising the proportion of Iranians who voted for a candidate by as much as five percentage points.
The stake in the capital, Tehran, was a paltry 26% and in Shirz just over 30%. In Tehran province, 12% of the votes cast were invalid. The national participation in 2017 was 73.3% and in 2013 it was 72.9%.
The result has sparked a bitter social media investigation among reformists about the wisdom of some like Behzad Nabavi to put their weight behind central bank director Abdolnasser Hemmati, fourth behind spoiled ballots and another conservative, absent. of a true reformist candidate.
Part of the older generation had backed Hemmati at the last minute, while the reform group was split 50:50 on whether supporting a man who had little broad political experience was unpopular due to his tenure at the central bank, and surprisingly , was not established. drew up a clear economic plan, the issue on which the elections were most likely to revolve. At the time of his semi-endorsement by the reformers, polls showed that Hemmati had no chance of winning with 3.6% in the polls.
Many said the debacle with Hemmati marked the death sentence for a certain generation of reformists who believe that the elected government can bring about change without confronting the powerful unelected conservative state led by Khamenei.
The United States said the Iranians had been denied a democratic election, noting that all prominent reformists were disqualified as candidates by the 12-member Guardian Council.
In a show of the limits of some reformists, Zarif said he was disappointed and surprised by the disqualifications, but accepted Raisi’s legitimacy as president.
Raisi, who campaigned as an opponent of corruption, is tasked with building an economic program, a cabinet, including a new foreign minister and a head of the judiciary, as well as alleviating the threat of another coronavirus ravaging the country. .
Human rights activists were dismayed by his choice. Amnesty Chief Agnès Callamard called for Raisi to be prosecuted for his involvement in the murder of thousands of MEK prisoners detained in 1988. Iran viewed the MEK as a terrorist group seeking to overthrow the regime, but members of the regime in the Time condemned extrajudicial executions. Raisi was a member of the death committee that sent thousands to be shot or hanged.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism