US says Iran polls not free and fair but nuclear talks to continue

Washington, June 19 (EFE).- The United States Saturday said it would build on the “meaningful progress” on the possible return to the 2015 nuclear accord even as Iranian presidential elections were not free and fair.

In the first remarks after ultraconservative chief justice Ebrahim Raisi was declared winner in the presidential race, the US Department of State said the Joe Biden administration would keep discussing possibilities of returning to the deal.

Raisi is seen close to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 81, who holds ultimate political power.

“We have seen that the Iranian interior minister announced Ebrahim Raisi as the winner of the Iranian elections, but (we) also make note that Iranians were denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.

Whatever the outcome of the polls that saw the low turnout and ended in the hardliner cleric’s win, the spokesperson said, the US would continue exploring the possibility of returning to the 2015 nuclear pact.

“We will continue discussions along with our allies and partners on a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the spokesperson said.

Then-president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions against Iran.

A year later, Iran began violating its commitments to the pact by exceeding the limit on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

Under the nuclear deal with six world powers, China, France, Germany, Russia, the US, and the UK, Iran was only permitted to enrich uranium up to 3.67 percent purity.

Parties to the pact are currently engaged in a talks process in Vienna, brokered by European diplomats, on salvaging the agreement and convincing Iran and the US to return to the pact.

The 17th round of negotiations, which began in April, will be held in Vienna on Sunday.

The US participates in the negotiations indirectly through its intermediaries, as Iran refuses to meet with its envoys.


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