August 2, 2021

In Tehran, election of tough president promotes Iran nuclear deal

At his first press conference on June 21, newly elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi, confronted with a question about the Tehran nuclear deal deal, unexpectedly adopted a measured tone. He did not threaten to leave the table of negotiations underway in Vienna, which aim to relaunch the nuclear “deal”. He made no mention of any deadline for the United States to return under the agreement it unilaterally left in 2018, under President Donald Trump. “We do not allow the negotiations to be tiring”, launched Mr. Raïssi, still head of the judiciary and who will not take office until the beginning of August. “Each meeting must have a concrete result”, wanted to clarify this member of the clergy and descendant of the Prophet. So many things that make the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, see in him a man of confidence.

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The future head of government has not threatened to free itself further from its commitments, as Iran has been doing since 2019 by increasing the number of its centrifuges as well as the degree of enrichment of its uranium. Like all Iranian presidents, Ebrahim Raïssi should only play a secondary role in shaping the country’s foreign policy. He will be the austere face, when his predecessor, the moderate Hassan Rohani, could display his good nature and a smiling face. Like the essential questions within the Islamic Republic, the nuclear file will remain in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority of the country, whose governments only apply the directives.

On the contrary, Ebrahim Raïssi’s words reflect Tehran’s current desire to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. This time, while all the pillars of power, elected and unelected (parliamentarian, executive and judiciary), are in the hands of the most conservative of the regime, the risk that the talks will be sabotaged from within is very low, if not nonexistent. This can reassure the West, at least on the nuclear issue.

Technological breakthroughs

During the presidency of Hassan Rohani (2013-2021), who came to power and re-elected thanks to the support of the reformers, not a day went by without the hard core of the regime, in particular the Revolutionary Guards (the ideological army of the country), plays the one-upmanship. “They write slogans on missiles to sabotage the deal”, had cursed Hassan Rouhani, in 2017, in allusion to the inscriptions “Death to the United States” and “Death to Israel” on warheads exhibited by the Revolutionary Guards a year earlier.

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