DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers hangs in the balance as the country prepares to vote today for a new president and diplomats press on with efforts to get both the United States (US) and Tehran to re-enter the accord.
The deal represents the signature accomplishment of the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s eight years in office: suspending crushing sanctions in exchange for the strict monitoring and limiting of Iran’s uranium stockpile.
The deal’s collapse with President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from the agreement in 2018 spiraled into a series of attacks and confrontations across the wider Middle East. It also prompted Tehran to enrich uranium to highest purity levels so far, just shy of weapons-grade levels.
With analysts and polling suggesting that a hard-line candidate already targeted by US sanctions will win today’s vote, a return to the deal may be possible but it likely won’t lead to a further detente between Iran and the West.
“It’s certainly not as complex as drafting a deal from scratch, which is what the sides did that resulted in the 2015 deal,” said Henry Rome, a senior analyst focussing on Iran at the Eurasia Group. “But there’s still a lot of details that need to be worked out.”
He added: “I think there’s a lot of domestic politics that go into this and an interest from hardliners, including the supreme leader, to ensure that their favoured candidate wins without any significant disruptions to that process.”
The 2015 deal, which saw Iranians flood into the streets in celebration, marked a major turn after years of tensions between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear programme.