Iran’s presidential transition was overshadowed by serious acts of maritime aggression which cast doubt over the near-term viability of negotiations to lift nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Irrespective of whether the attacks on two vessels in less than a week were a message from the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi, or a message to him from Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the optics of a deal just got more difficult.

Mr Raisi was sworn in as president on 5 August, having been appointed on 3 August by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during an endorcement ceremony in Tehran. On the same day as the ceremony, at least six unidentified Iranian-speaking individuals boarded the ‘Asphalt Princess’ bitumen tanker in the Indian Ocean 113km east of the UAE port of Fujairah and hijacked it. (CONTINUED - 1055 WORDS)