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Talks between Iran and world powers on how to renew the 2015 nuclear deal will resume this weekend. Reuters US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday, adding that Iran’s June 18 presidential election was a complicating factor.
“I know the talks will start again this weekend,” Sherman said during a virtual event hosted by the German think tank at the Marshall Foundation.
“I think there has been a lot of progress, but based on my own experience, until the last detail is captured, I mean that we will not know if we will have an agreement,” said Sherman, one of the key US negotiators on the original deal said.
The talks are aimed at renewing U.S. and Iranian compliance with a landmark pact in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program to make it difficult to obtain fissile material for a bomb in exchange for easing U.S., European Union and UN sanctions.
There have been five rounds of indirect US-Iranian talks since April, and the next round is expected to begin Saturday in Vienna, a source familiar with the matter said. Reuters and Iranian state media quoted a leading Iranian negotiator.
However, many obstacles remain, suggesting that there is still a long way to go back to compliance, say four diplomats, two Iranian officials and two analysts.
Another factor is the June 18 election to replace President Hassan Rouhani, the pragmatist who pushed the original deal and who was widely expected to be followed by a tough successor.
“This is, of course, complicated by the presidential elections in Iran, which are taking place in just a few days,” Sherman said, without going into details.
At the same time, the elections are expected to have little impact on Iran’s foreign and nuclear policy, which is determined by the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and all seven presidential candidates supported the negotiations.
Then-US President Donald Trump backed out of the deal in 2018, saying it was too lenient on Iran and re-imposing sanctions. Iran responded by violating its nuclear restrictions about a year later.
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