Iranian Elections Pit Hard-liners, Pragmatists Against Each Other
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday delivered a rare rebuke of his fellow colleagues on the issue of the country’s nuclear program, accusing hard-line politicians of “betraying” the nation by insisting on unyielding policies and thereby preventing American sanctions from being lifted. “Today, conditions are better than ever for the removal of sanctions,” Rouhani explained, noting the United States is ready to return to the abandoned 2015 nuclear agreement and roll back its economic restrictions on Iran. While he insisted that “words are not enough” and that Tehran was “waiting for action” by the US, the Islamic Republic’s leader said that a “small minority that is obstructing this path needs to stop its destructive act.” The inner squabbles between the pragmatist Rouhani camp and Iranian hardliners have intensified in recent weeks, as the country’s June 18 general elections draw near. A return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which afforded Tehran’s economy some breathing room before former President Donald Trump pulled out and reimposed harsh sanctions, would benefit the more moderate candidates. The US has called on Iran to resume full compliance with the deal immediately, while Tehran has demanded that sanctions be lifted first.