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Hard to save the Iran nuclear deal, even if Biden wins the U.S. election.

Even if Biden wins US election, time is running out to save Iran nuclear deal
Events in the US are being watched closely as Iran’s presidential election looms in early 2021,
Guardian, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor, Wed 21 Oct 2020 Even if Joe Biden triumphs at the polls, Iran’s weakened government may only have a few months to negotiate a revived nuclear deal before facing its own electoral challenge by hardliners who oppose any engagement with the west.

The narrow window has prompted calls for Biden to offer a phased approach to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018, in order to show progress before the Iranian presidential election.

Iran’s reformists and centrists remain severely damaged by the failure of the original agreement to deliver economic benefits to ordinary Iranians.

Once Trump left the deal, he imposed maximum economic pressure on Tehran, blocking Iran’s oil exports, and leaving advocates of engagement with the US struggling to defend their strategy. In a recent interview in Kar Va Kargar the foreign minister Javad Zarif insisted the foreign ministry had not been naive to negotiate with the Americans, but said Trump had “blown up the entire negotiating room”.

Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, was also an advocate of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but is standing down after two four-year terms. A range of conservatives, including members of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, are preparing to stand, advocating either closer ties with China or a stronger self-reliant economic policy.

The reformist movement has not yet decided whether to put up a candidate or instead back a technocratic figure such as Ali Larijani, the former Speaker who is currently assisting Rouhani in framing a 25-year strategic partnership with China.

Reformists were trounced in spring parliamentary elections marked by a record low turn-out. The chances of persuading the disillusioned middle class to vote in the presidential election may in part depend on finding a credible candidate who can raise hopes of a resumption of talks with the west.

Biden has so far promised that “if Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the US would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations”.

But even if he does win, Biden would not take office until 20 January, leaving only a short time for reformists to convince Iranians that the path of engagement is worth trying again.

Some analysts say a Biden victory could be enough to change the mood in Iran – and certainly the elections are being watched with fascination in Tehran……. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/21/even-if-biden-wins-us-election-time-is-running-out-to-save-iran-nuclear-deal

October 22, 2020 - Posted by | election USA 2020, Iran, politics international

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