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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty

Iran's outgoing nuclear negotiator has been replaced as deputy foreign minister for political affairs by an ultra-hardliner, potentially further complicating efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The state of play: It's not yet clear whether the new deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri, will play as central a role in nuclear negotiations as his predecessor, Abbas Araghchi. Araghchi was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator since 2013, played a key role in reaching the 2015 deal and comes from the more moderate camp.

  • Bagheri is a leading critic of the 2015 deal and the recent negotiations in Vienna. He previously led nuclear diplomacy under the hardline government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
  • If he is picked to lead the nuclear negotiations, it would be roughly analogous to John Bolton running nuclear talks with Iran. 

The big picture: President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August stating that he was open to resuming nuclear talks with the U.S., but that any understandings reached over the past several months in Vienna were now void.

  • Talks have been frozen since the new hardline government replaced the more moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani. It's not yet clear whether future negotiations will be run out of the Foreign Ministry, as under Rouhani, or the National Security Council.
  • Bagheri was Raisi's representative at the Foreign Ministry during the transition and also Raisi's representative to a government monitoring committee on the nuclear deal.
  • Bagheri is not a fluent English speaker, which complicated the nuclear talks during his previous stint in office.

What's next: There is still no date for resuming indirect nuclear talks between Iran and the U.S. over returning to compliance with the 2015 agreement.

  • The U.S. and its European allies are waiting for Iran to return to the table, and they're warning that the window to strike a deal could close.

Go deeper

Dec 14, 2021 - World

Jake Sullivan to visit Israel next week to discuss Iran

Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to travel to Israel next week for discussions on Iran as negotiations continue in Vienna on a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal, three senior Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is concerned that the Biden administration could opt for a “less for less” deal if the path back to the original agreement remains stuck. Israeli officials claim such a deal will give Iran sanctions relief without rolling back its nuclear program.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.