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Iran rejects draft nuclear deal with US citing legal concerns, says spokesman

Ali Rabiei says first draft of nuclear accord does not comply with legislation passed in December
Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, who takes office in August, during his first press conference in Tehran on 21 June (AFP/File photo)

Iran has rejected the first draft of a newly proposed nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers citing legal concerns, Bloomberg News reported

Ali Rabiei, spokesman for the outgoing Rouhani administration, said on Tuesday that Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) ruled that the deal was incompatible with legislation passed by parliament in December.

The legislation compelled the government to expand nuclear activities and to limit inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors if other nuclear deal signatories failed "to fully deliver on their commitments toward Iran".

Such commitments include normalising international banking relations and removing obstacles to oil exports.

Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1, which includes the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, have been ongoing in Vienna. With six rounds of talks completed, the seventh round is not expected to take place until after President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes office next month. 

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For its part, the State Department has denied that any final agreement had been reached in Vienna, stressing after the sixth round of talks that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". 

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani told his cabinet that were it not for December's legislation, an agreement in Vienna that would have seen a lifting of some of the US's most stringent sanctions could have been bargained perhaps as early as March. 

The Biden administration had expressed hopes that a deal could be agreed upon before Rouhani left office, as Raisi, a religious conservative aligned with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is expected to drive a harder bargain. 

Khamenei presides over the 20-member SNSC and holds the last word on crucial matters of security and foreign policy.

On Tuesday, Rabiei told reporters at a news conference that top governmental authorities have approved the continuation of negotiations until all requirements set by the parliament have been met. 

Meanwhile, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Monday that the agency has been put in an "uncomfortable position" regarding the stalled Vienna talks. 

"We still have a number of questions, issues that we are trying to clarify with Iran, and we will have to wait and start anew with the new team when they are in office," Grossi told AFP in an interview. 

Analysts say it could take months for negotiations to kickstart following the new administration's swearing-in.

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