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Iranian nuclear negotiator replaced by hard-line protege

The appointment of the hard-line figure Ali Bagheri Kani at the Foreign Ministry has raised questions about ongoing negotiations over the 2015 nuclear deal. 
An undated image of Ali Bagheri-Kani.

The election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was bound to bring about a number of changes not just within top cabinet positions, but lower-level jobs as well. One exception, some had hoped, would be continuity with the staff of nuclear negotiators. That hope may have been dashed with the replacement of pragmatic Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi with hard-liner Ali Bagheri Kani, according to a recent Foreign Ministry statement.  

Bagheri Kani was a former leading nuclear negotiator during Saeed Jalili’s tenure as the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At that time, the nuclear negotiations were under the SNSC. Under President Hassan Rouhani, the file was moved to the foreign ministry under Mohammad Javad Zarif. The current nuclear negotiations to bring the United States back into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — and Iran back into full compliance with the deal — were being led by Araghchi in Vienna. All sides are still waiting to resume another round of those talks.

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