With nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers resuming on Wednesday, Iran has set out its lines for the completion of a comprehensive agreement by June 30.

Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, said “unfair sanctions” will “top the agenda” as he meets the European Union’s deputy foreign policy chief, Helga Schmid, in Vienna. Talks between Iran and the political deputies of the 5+1 (US, Britain, France, China, and Russia) are expected to follow on Friday.

Araqchi said Iran will demand that US representatives provide “clear, precise information” on “the details related to the lifting of the sanctions”.

The US and Iran have been manoeuvring over a nuclear framework agreed on April 2. The Americans have said that UN, European Union, and US sanctions will be lifted or suspended when the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies Iranian compliance with the terms of the comprehensive deal. Most Iranian officials, including the Supreme Leader, have insisted on a full and immediate termination of sanctions as soon as the agreement is signed, although Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Rouhani have maintained some ambiguity over the lifting of restrictions linked to the “very first day of implementation”.

President Obama indicated some flexibility last week in the American position, saying some sanctions could be lifted or suspended on the day of the deal’s completion, provided they can be re-imposed if Iran is found to violate the agreement.

Araqchi also said that the US officials will be asked to explained a bill, going through the US Senate, that will
allow Congress to review a final nuclear agreement.

The White House, having previously opposed any Congressional vote, said last week that it had reached a compromise with the legislators for a 30-day review period of the deal.

Araqchi said the Obama Administration is responsible for ensuring that its commitments, especially those pertaining to sanctions, are honored “regardless of US domestic political disputes”.

Story of “Ahmadinejad Comeback” Resurfaces

The periodic story of a political “comeback” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President from 2005 to 2013, has resurfaced.

The latest episode is a meeting by 57 Ahmadinejad allies and supporters from Fars Province in April 16. The meeting, including former Governors and provincial officials, discussed a “core” group for the former President to win a Parliamentary seat in February 2016 elections.

The majority of those at the meeting had worked in Ahmadinejad’s administration, including former senior advisor Mehdi Kalhor and former Tehran Province Governor Morteza Tamaddon.

State news agency IRNA, quoting an Iranian officials, responded that the meeting was “held without a permit and without coordination with responsible authorities” and that “the organizers have committed an offense” by holding the session in a government-owned facility.

Claims of an Ahmadinejad comeback have been persistent since he left office in August 2013, following years of disputes with other elements in the Iranian regime, including Parliament, the Revolutionary Guards, and even the Supreme Leader.

See Iran Feature: Signs of an Ahmadinejad Comeback & a Hard-Line Challenge to Speaker of Parliament Larijani
Iran Feature: An Ahmadinejad Comeback?

Iranian Commander Killed in Syrian Conflict

The Iranian outlet ABNA confirms the death of an Iranian commander, Hadi Kajbaf, in this week’s fighting in Syria.

Syrian rebels had circulated the news that Kajbaf was killed in a heavy defeat for Syrian forces when they tried to take the town of Busra al-Harir in southern Syria.

A number of Afghan immigrants, sent by Tehran to fight for the Assad regime with promises of money and residency in Iran, were also slain.

See Syria Daily, April 21: Regime Suffers Another Military Defeat in South

Iran Hails Yemen Ceasefire, But Says Broad-Based Government Must Follow

Iran has hailed the announcement of a ceasefire in Yemen’s civil war, with an end to Saudi-led bombing, but said that aid, dialogue, and a broad-based Government must follow.

Iran has taken a high-profile political line over the conflict, denouncing the Saudis and proposed a 4-point plan for resolution.

Early Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said there would soon be a ceasefire after an advance by the forces of Ansar Allah (Houthis), which controls the capital Sanaa, into southern Yemen and almost a month of Saudi-led airstrikes to check the offensive.

The tentative agreement followed on Tuesday night, with the Saudi-led coalition halting operations at midnight.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded with a Twitter message:

See Iran Daily, April 21: What Nuclear Discussions? Tehran Talking “Yemen, Yemen, Yemen”

Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, sets aside diplomacy for a jab at Riyadh, “Saudi-Led Coalition Ends Month-Long Aggression against Yemen without Tangible Achievements”.

The Supreme Leader was also far from conciliatory in his Twitter declaration just before the ceasefire was confirmed: