“We are closer than ever to an agreement, but there are still large gaps that are difficult to bridge,” Iran’s representative for nuclear talks with the superpowers, Abbas Arkady, said today (Sunday), explaining why talks have been halted in the meantime. The cessation of talks comes a day after the election of Ibrahim Raisi as President of Iran, which drew condemnation and criticism from the West, as well as congratulations and best wishes from allies of the Islamic Republic.
Talks between the parties began about two months ago in Vienna, with the aim of renewing the nuclear deal from which the US unilaterally withdrew in 2018. Contacts resumed amid a change of government in Washington and repeated violations by Iran, which felt no longer committed to the agreement following the move by Donald Trump. This, as Arkchi revealed this morning, the parties have not been able to reach final agreements and talks have been suspended for the time being.
“In order to bridge the gaps, decisions are needed that the other side must make,” the Iranian representative said. “I hope that in the next round of talks we can take this step towards each other – even though it will be very difficult.”
The announcement of the break in contacts comes a day after Ibrahim Raisi, a conservative and extremist cleric who earned nicknames like “The Butcher” and “The Executioner,” won the presidential election in his country. Nonetheless, Raisi is expected to continue in the same line as his predecessor in office and strive for a return to an agreement with the US that will allow Iran to break free from the economic sanctions that are suffocating it.
Raisi’s choice was received with concern in Israel. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said this morning at a cabinet meeting that it was “a signal to the powers to wake up just before returning to the nuclear deal, and to understand with whom they intend to do business and what regime they choose to strengthen.” The Americans also came out against the Tehran election, arguing that “Iranians were not given the right to elect their leaders in a free and fair election process.”
International human rights organizations have resented the election of Raisi, due to his previous roles in which he sent thousands of people to their deaths. Amnesty International has even called for him to be prosecuted for crimes committed against humanity in the past.
On the other hand, some chose to congratulate Raisi on his new role. Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the good relations between the two countries and told Raisi: “I hope that your activities will contribute to the further development of cooperation between us, as well as to partnership in international affairs. Your election fully meets the interests of our peoples, and is consistent with regional security and stability.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wished Raisi success in his job, “for the benefit of the Iranian citizens, who stand firm in the face of all the plans and pressures aimed at breaking their will and undermining their independent decision.” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem wrote to the new Iranian president: “We congratulate the Islamic Republic on the success of the democratic process, the presidential election and the victory of Ibrahim Raisi. Iran has always supported Palestinian interests and goals.”