Iran Not Ready for Nuclear Talks Until Raisi Takes Over, Diplomatic Source Says

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Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi waves to participants at the conclusion of his press conference in Tehran, Iran, last month.
Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi waves to participants at the conclusion of his press conference in Tehran, Iran, last month.Credit: Vahid Salemi,AP

Iran is not prepared to resume negotiations on coming back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal until Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi's administration has begun, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

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

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"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 August 5 or until his government is in place.

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

A U.S. State Department spokesperson 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 spokesperson.

"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."

Talks began in April on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, formally named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), 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 between Iran accepting limits to its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.  

Earlier this month, the UN atomic watchdog said that Iran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon and that three European powers said threatened talks to revive the nuclear deal.

This move came after, top diplomats said last month further progress had been made at talks between Iran and global powers to try to negotiate and restore a landmark 2015 agreement to contain Iranian nuclear development that was later abandoned by the Trump administration.

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