Elections to Push Nuclear Talks Well Into Summer: Iran Snapshot

Here is a snapshot of what’s happening with Iran’s nuclear talks in Vienna and how they are affecting energy markets.

Latest Developments

Citizens in the Islamic Republic vote today to pick a successor to President Hassan Rouhani. Ebrahim Raisi, a 60-year-old conservative judiciary chief who’s seen as a favorite to one day replace Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the frontrunner in a narrow field of four candidates approved by the nation’s Guardian Council. Low turnout is expected.

The only reformist in the field of hardliners is Abdolnaser Hemmati, a central bank governor who stepped down from that post after becoming a candidate.

Talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are now likely to extend well into the summer, two senior Western officials familiar with the process told Bloomberg on Thursday. A change in president isn’t expected to derail those talks because they’ve been blessed by Khamenei, they said, asking not to be identified discussing private deliberations. A deal would curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief and pave the way for Iranian oil to return to world markets.

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Oil

Crude dipped on Friday, falling below $71 a barrel after a broad, copper-to-gold commodities sell-off on Thursday sent prices down by the most in four weeks. The losses followed the Federal Reserve’s midweek signal it will in time end the ultra-easy policy brought in to rescue the U.S. economy from the pandemic.

Oil has rallied in 2021 on surging demand coupled with still-restrained supply from OPEC and its allies. Traders have also priced in the Iranian talks taking longer than initially thought, delaying a surge in Iranian supply. Iran’s exports plunged from 2 million barrels a day to barely anything after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran.

Agenda

Today: Iranians head to the polls from around 7 a.m. to midnight local time.

June 19-20: Results of presidential race expected to be announced. If none of the four candidates wins more than 50% of the vote in the first round, there will be a run-off election.

June 24: A temporary monitoring pact with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency expires. IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi told Bloomberg Television on Thursday that his monitors haven’t yet received an offer from Iran to extend the pact, and failure to do so would create an information “black hole” about Iranian nuclear activities.

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