Iran’s president selects hardline cabinet for tougher deal with US

Iran's deputy negotiator Bagheri speaks during a news conference in Almaty
Iran’s deputy negotiator Ali Bagheri speaks during a news conference in Almaty on April 5, 2013. Reuters/Shamil Zumatov

September 15, 2021

by Michael Georgi

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran, buoyed by the messy U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, is betting that its new hardline cabinet, including Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Qani – implement concessions in talks with world powers over Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. can.

A staunch senior diplomat, Bagheri was named on Tuesday to replace Abbas Araqchi, a seasoned practical diplomat and chief negotiator in talks that Tehran hopes will lift US sanctions.

Andreas Craig said, “Kani is an extension of the radical deep state that is now in charge of all institutions in Iran and can negotiate more easily with the West as he is representing not only the government but the empowerment of the inner circle.” ” Associate Professor of the School of Security at King’s College, London.

“It (US withdrawal from Afghanistan) has given the regime in Tehran more confidence in their regional surrogate war approach, while showing that the US is on the backfoot in the region.”

Iran has alerted Washington and its Gulf Arab allies by relying on proxies in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon to spread its influence across the Middle East.

Bagheri, who was named Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, was a senior negotiator in the nuclear talks under former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from 2007 to 2013. He is a relative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In late August Iran’s parliament approved all of President Ibrahim Raisi’s big-name candidates for the hardline cabinet, which has the task of easing US sanctions and implementing his plans to deal with worsening economic hardship. Will happen.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States kicked off in June, days after Raisi was elected Iran’s president. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that the time for Iran to return to the nuclear deal was running out.

An official involved in the talks said Iran’s enrichment with a large number of advanced centrifuges is an unresolved issue, as is Iran’s demand to “verify” US compliance before curbing its nuclear program.

The official said the verification would mean the easing of US sanctions, the export of some of Iran’s oil and its payment through an international bank before Tehran takes steps to make its program less capable of building nuclear weapons.

Western powers on Monday scrapped plans for a resolution criticizing Iran at the UN nuclear watchdog after Tehran agreed to prolong its monitoring of some nuclear activities, even though the watchdog said Iran had No “promises” have been made on another major issue.

During a visit by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi to Tehran later this week, Iran agreed to give its agency overdue access to its equipment in Iran that monitors some sensitive areas of its nuclear program. Inspectors will swap memory cards no more than two weeks after they are replaced. Grossi said on Sunday that the deal resolved “the most urgent issue” between the IAEA and Iran.

However, he clarified on Monday that at another source of concern – Iran’s failure to interpret traces of uranium found at several old but undeclared sites – he had obtained no firm commitment.

Control risk analyst, Niki Siamaki, said that Bagheri’s appointment, especially if he replaces Arrachi as chief nuclear negotiator, could prolong the process of reaching an agreement with the United States as their masters. They will raise bets to reach a deal that they see meets their conditions. .

The 2015 nuclear deal banned Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions against Tehran.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, imposing tough economic sanctions on Iran. Tehran responded a year later by violating several of the accord’s restrictions and subsequently enriching uranium to a level of purity close to weapons-grade.

Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center Fellow Mohand Hague Ali said the Iranian narrative is of sticking to their demands and that they will emerge victorious against a weak United States.

Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah paramilitary group, he said, is using images of people falling from a US plane departing Afghanistan to suggest that those who bet on American power will face the same fate.

“The pictures taken from the airport in Kabul left me in shock and the results were out,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Aziz El Yacoubi in Dubai; Editing by Alistair Bell)


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