Iran nuclear deal

US: Iran nuclear talks to resume over the weekend, elections ‘complicating factor’

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Negotiations between Iran and the world powers on how to revive the 2015 nuclear accord will resume over the coming weekend, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday, adding that the June 18 Iranian presidential election was a complicating factor on the talks.

“I know that the negotiation will start again over this coming weekend,” Sherman said during a virtual event organized by the German Marshall Fund. “I think there’s been a lot of progress made but out of my own experience until the last detail is nailed down, and I mean nailed down, we will not know if we have an agreement,” she said.

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The talks seek to revive a landmark pact under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions, which opened the way for a brief thaw in decades of US-Iranian confrontation.

A host of barriers to the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal remain firmly in place ahead of talks, suggesting a return to compliance with the 2015 accord is still a way off, four diplomats, two Iranian officials and two analysts say.

Adding to the impetus to make progress is the election in Iran on June 18 to replace President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who promoted the original deal. He is widely expected to be followed by a hard-line successor.

“This is complicated, of course, by the Iranian presidential election, which is happening in just a few days,” Sherman added. She did not elaborate.

Then-US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, saying it was too soft on Tehran, and reimposed sanctions. Iran responded by violating the agreement’s limits.

Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has said he wants to restore the deal’s nuclear limits and, if possible, extend them to cover issues such as Iran’s regional behavior and missile program. Iran wants all sanctions lifted and no expansion of the terms.

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