Analysts Say Raeesi Support For Nuclear Deal Won’t Clear Iran’s Problems
Iranian lawyer and foreign-policy expert Reza Nasri has predicted that any principlist or hardliner Iranian president, including June 18 election front-runner Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), would face serious problems with the West.
In a June 14 interview with Khabar Online website, Nasri said that the next Iranian government would struggle to maintain economic relations with China if it failed to solve the problem of United States sanctions and to protect progress in the Vienna nuclear talks. Continued failure to accede to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the intergovernmental body whose members host the world’s main financial markets, would stymie long-term cooperation with the East.
Nasri not only argued the five principlist candidates − Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, Saeed Jalili, Raeesi, Mohsen Rezaei (Rezaee), and Alireza Zakani − lacked plans to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers; he said that that before the election campaign four had opposed President Hassan Rouhani’s efforts to renew the agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Nasri suggested their new positive attitude toward the JCPOA, including during debates, showed they knew voters wanted to see it revived and sanctions reduced.
Other have noted that Raeesi had not shared a vociferous opposition to the JCPOA and international talks during the eight years of Rouhani’s presidency, and that the chief justice, generally considered the election front-runner, claimed during the debates he could handle reviving the JCPOA better than Rouhani.
During the presidential debates, Raeesi said he would back reviving the JCPOA if it was in the “people’s interests,” an echo of his remark during the 2017 election, when he lost to Rouhani, that signing the JCPOA in 2015 had been “a national decision.”
Former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh offered similar views in an interview with reformist daily Etemad published Sunday, when he criticized Iranian state television for omitting the JCPOA, US sanctions and United Nations resolutions critical of Iran from the main set topics of the presidential debates.
Aminzadeh said that some candidates’ ignoring sanctions as a topic, or taking ambiguous or conflicting positions – given their active part in creating current economic and foreign-policy problems – pointed to a bleak outlook for the country.
Nasri told Khabar Online that the principlist camp had presented many plans to parliament over the past several years, going back to Rouhani’s election in 2013, to scupper nuclear negotiations, including several times summoning Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and widely distributing insulting posters and leaflets any time Zarif went to Europe for talks.
At the same time, they opposed foreign investment in Iran, and pretended Iran’s agreement in 2016 to purchase Airbus and Boeing aircraft − a deal frozen after Trump withdrew from the JCPOA and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ − as a bribe to the West.
Nasri welcomed hardline presidential election candidates softening their stance toward the JCPOA, even if foreign observers and Iranian voters doubted their motives.
But he warned that any uncalculated statements − for example over the Jewish holocaust, a favorite topic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when president 2005-2013 – would discredit Iran and make it hard for Western governments to convince their public of the need for better relations.
Nasri said it would be a challenge for President Joe Biden or any Western leader to have cordial relations with Raeesi, or even send him a felicitation message should he win the election. The chief justice remains under US sanction under a 2019 Trump executive order for “being a person appointed to a position as a state official of Iran by the Supreme Leader...”
Nasri concluded that in such circumstances, the US would have little difficulty gaining European support over Tehran. “A principlist government in Iran is going to face serious tensions and problems with Europe," Nasri said.