The ongoing negotiations in Vienna to revive President Obama’s landmark foreign policy agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—are progressing slowly but steadily, with diplomats suggesting that an agreement could be reached in the sixth round of negotiations. Nevertheless, given the complexity of the US-imposed sanctions, and the advances in Iran’s nuclear program since 2015, reaching an agreement before Iran’s June 18 presidential elections seems unlikely.
Meanwhile, Iranian politics are becoming increasingly chaotic and heated as the country prepares itself for the upcoming presidential election, when President Hassan Rouhani’s successor will be chosen. Only a few weeks before the elections, the Guardian Council, vested with the power to vet presidential candidates, barred a number of powerful candidates, namely Ali Larijani, the former speaker of Iran’s parliament; Eshaq Jahangiri, Rouhani’s vice president; and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Council’s controversial decision paved the way for Ebrahim Raisi, the conservative judiciary chief endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and widely speculated to be Khamenei’s potential successor.