Iran election: Hardline frontrunner candidate says he won't oppose nuclear deal

Iran election: Hardline frontrunner candidate says he won't oppose nuclear deal
Iranian hardliners have strongly opposed the nuclear deal in the past
2 min read
15 June, 2021
Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi hold posters depicting him during an election campaign rally on June 14, 2021 in Tehran, Iran. [Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images]

The ultraconservative frontrunner in Iran's presidential race has said that he would not oppose a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Ebrahim Raisi, who is currently Iran’s judiciary chief, made the comments at a presidential election debate on Saturday. Iran's presidential elections will take place on 18 June.

When reformist candidate Abdolnaser Hemmati, formal governor of Iran's central bank, said a hardliner president would provoke more sanctions on Iran, Raisi said he would "stay committed" to the accord.

What needs to change is who in Iran puts the accord into practice, Raisi said.

"The accord needs to be implemented by a strong government," he told Hemmati and the audience.

Current President Hassan Rouhani, a reformist, signed the historic deal to cap Iran's nuclear capabilities in 2015.

The agreement crumbled when former US President Donald Trump took office in 2017. He quickly withdrew the US from the accord and reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran.

During Trump's administration, Iran took several steps back from the commitments it made in the accord, including increasing its uranium enrichment.

Months of talks have taken place in Geneva to revive the deal. The sixth round of negotiations began on Saturday with Iranian officials expressing optimism that a deal will be reached.

Iranian hardliners have long criticised the nuclear deal, viewing it as capitulation to Western powers.

Raisi ran against President Rouhani in the last presidential election in 2017, but lost. He - along with other ultraconservative candidates - has been vocal in his criticism of Rouhani’s "pro-Western government" and other reformists during his election campaign.

As chief of justice, Raisi has presided over executions that have been met with global outcry.