Saeed Jalili (R) and Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran's current nuclear negotiator. Undated

Saeed Jalili (R) and Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran's current nuclear negotiator. Undated

Some In Iran Say Former Negotiator Jalili Working Against Nuclear Deal

12/17/2021

The hardliner Jalili brothers, opposed to the 2015 nuclear agreement, JCPOA, are expanding their influence in the Iranian government, some media in Tehran say.

Iranian State TV Chief Payman Jebelli on Thursday appointed hardline commentator Vahid Jalili as his deputy in charge of cultural programming with a separate mandate as the official to introduce "change" in the state TV.

Vahid Jalili is the brother of Saeed Jalili, former nuclear negotiator in ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration and a staunch critic of JCPOA.

During the past few days Iranian media speculated that the development could mean Saeed Jalili’s influence is expanding in President Ebrahim Raisi’s government, and given his past record as a bombastic negotiator, this will not bode well for current nuclear talks in Vienna.

The Iranian Students News Agency ISNA, which broke the news about the appointment on Thursday, revealed that Vahid Jalili is not just any deputy chief. Jebelli officially appointed him as Acting Director of the Islamic Republic of Iran broadcasting Organization IRIB) while praising his "capabilities and long experience in the area of revolutionary art."

Moderate news website Rouydad 24, is one of the Iranian media outlets that has said the development will inevitably put Saeed Jalili in a better position to impose his ideas on Iran’s nuclear negotiators, particularly his former deputy Ali Bagheri-Kani who is now Iran's chief envoy in the talks.

Although Vahid Jalili is not officially in charge of programming in the state TV as was earlier speculated, still his mandate includes "Promoting the quality of programs to make them compliant with the ideas of the Supreme Leader" who believes "TV programming is one of the battlefronts of soft war."

ISNA reminded its readers that Vahid Jalili's background include publishing ‘revolutionary’ material and founding the Research Institute for the Cultural Front of the Revolution. This possibly means he would toughen Iran's only broadcaster's position on the nuclear negotiations.

According to Rouydad24, a political current in Iran is trying to obstruct the negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal while some Iranian commentators hope the new round of talks that started last week would prove fruitful, as Iran agreed to allow the UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, to reinstall cameras at a nuclear site near Tehran.

Clearly referring to the time when Saeed Jalili and Bagheri-Kani were in charge of the negotiations in early 2010s, Rouydad24 charged that this is the same faction which steered nuclear negotiations for eight years during Ahmadinejad's presidency without any tangible outcome. Not only they did not reach an agreement with world powers, but their bombastic approach resulted in several UN Security Council resolutions against Iran.

The same team's nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi this week told Rouydad24 that "It is now the best time for Iran to leave the JCPOA for good."

Meanwhile, Amir Hossein Sabeti a political activist close to the Jallii brothers wrote on Twitter: "It is unlikely that the United States would enter into a good agreement with Iran after several years of enmity. It is more likely that not reaching an agreement would secure Iran's interests rather than an agreement." He added that the rise and fall of the rate of exchange has nothing to do with Jalili and Bagheri's men and only Raisi's economic ministers should be accountable for that.

Bagheri has said several times since the start of the nuclear talks that Iran is not taking part in "nuclear negotiations" with the West and that the Iranian team’s only objective is to have the sanctions lifted.

In November 2017, ISNA wrote that Jalili has been going around delivering speeches against the JCPOA at various universities. According to ISNA, the highlight of Jalili's speeches was that "The JCPOA has had no benefit for us and has only imposed a high cost on Iran."

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