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Tehran says nuclear talks must await Iran’s new administration

Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a political rally in Iran. (Hossein Razaqnejad, Wikimedia Commons released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator says the next round of talks in Vienna must wait until Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes over in early August.

“We’re in a transition period as a democratic transfer of power is under way in our capital. Vienna talks must thus obviously await our new administration,” Abbas Araghchi said on Twitter on July 17.

Iran’s talks with world powers on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump quit in 2018, have remained stalled after six rounds.

In his tweet, Araghchi also said the United States and Britain should stop linking the exchange of prisoners with the nuclear deal.

“Ten prisoners on all sides may be released tomorrow if [the] U.S. and U.K. fulfil their part of a deal,” he said.

Iran is holding a number of dual nationals, including several Iranian-Americans, amid accusations by rights activists and others that Tehran is using the detainees to extract concessions from other countries.

On July 13, Iran confirmed that it has been holding talks on potential prisoner exchanges with the United States.

“These talks are ongoing and if any acceptable result is achieved, it will be announced,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.

His comments came a few days after U.S. envoy for Iran Robert Malley said Washington was working to release its detained citizens. Malley said that U.S. President Joe Biden insists on the release of all Americans detained in Iran and will not accept a “partial deal.”

Malley called the release of Americans detained in Iran a “priority” and said that negotiations with Tehran have “made some progress,” NBC News reported.

The 2015 nuclear deal imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Biden has promised to rejoin the deal if Iran returns to full compliance.