Iran’s Presidential Candidates and the Future of Nuclear Deal
Before Donald Trump took office as the US president, most Iranian observers believed that the upcoming presidential race would be mainly a political showdown between proponents and opponents of the nuclear deal. During his campaign, Donald Trump had repeatedly criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and six world powers in Vienna on 14 July 2015, threatening to pull out. However, the tone softened after his upset victory, in a volte-face as the new US administration found that all other sides of the deal strictly insist on keeping the accord. Yet in another U-turn, the US administration announced two weeks ago that it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States’ national security interests, Reuters reported. U.S. While acknowledging Iran’s compliance with the deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson brought up what he called “concerns about its role as a state sponsor of terrorism”. The Trump administration seems to waiting to see who Iran’s next president is.
In the run-up to Iran’s presidential race, candidates are either refraining to comment on the deal or advocating it as a national commitment that should be implemented to the letter. Even Ebrahim Raisi, surrounded by hardliner groups including the Paydari Front, is still campaigning over issues of domestic economy, turning a blind eye to the deal and its future.
Here is a selection what the other five presidential candidates have to say about the deal, as curated by Iran’s state-run Students News Agency (ISNA):
Mostafa Mir-Salim (conservative, Motalefeh Party):
Many efforts have been made by the Iranian administration for the nation’s [nuclear] rights to be recognized internationally, but since the new president took office in the United States, that country has failed to demonstrate its commitment to the nuclear deal.
The JCPOA is to us a treaty of international significance and we have fulfilled most of our commitments.
It is now time for the other side to be accountable as to why it has failed to enact its commitments.
Eshaq Jahangiri (Reformist, Vice President):
Appropriate mechanisms have been anticipated in the JCPOA for (potential) violations, based on which any country attempting to violate the deal would become isolated.
With the nuclear deal, Iran broke through the existing global consensus. If we pursue the rational, legal path, the US will not be able to create problems in the (implementation of the) deal. However, if they ever want to do so, we will be able to reciprocate.
Hassan Rouhani (moderate, incumbent president):
The smiles [we showed] during the talks were out of courtesy. The reality was the Islamic Republic’s power in slashing the 45-percent inflation rate down to 15 percent, the result of which was seen in the negotiations.
Certainly, the public’s participation, unity between the nation and the state, as well as the resolution of economic problems led to our victory in the talks.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Principlist, Tehran mayor):
In spite of all criticisms, the JCPOA, as it is, is a national document and commitment.
Our people are no more concerned about whether the deal was good or bad. All they are asking is why the deal has become the administration’s only issue and how it improved our lives. Why did we fulfill our commitments while the other side has failed to do so? Why has the administration failed in advocating our rights?
The JCPOA is now a commitment made by the establishment. No administration could walk out of such a commitment. I will protect the deal in place in my Administration of People.
Mostafa Hashemitaba (Reformist):
If we do not like someone, it does not mean we cannot sign an agreement with them.
In the history of Islam, we have a peace treaty between [Shiite] Imam Hassan (PBUH) and [caliph] Muawiyah. Although Imam Hossein knew that Muawiyah would not be loyal to the treaty, he signed the treaty in order to show who would fail to be committed.
In the implementation of the deal, and any other deal, every country tries to interpret the provisions in its own interest.
The US does not openly confess to reneging on its promies, but wil portray it as the result of its understanding of the deal. Of course, an international deal undersigned by several countries cannot be dumped with opposition from a president.