Iran’s president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, marks a hard line for the nuclear deal

Iran’s newly elected president has signaled that his government will take a tougher line with negotiations on the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal signed with world powers after his victory in the elections brought complete control of all the arms of the State.

Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and head of justice, told reporters that his government will not “negotiate for the purpose of dealing” and has ruled out any meeting with US President Joe Biden.

“Our foreign policy does not start with the JCPOA [the nuclear deal] and it doesn’t end with the JCPOA, ”Raisi told reporters at his first press conference since his victory on Friday.“ We will support any negotiation that responds to our national interests. But we will not link the economic situation and the means of subsistence of people to these discourses. . . We will not allow the discussions to continue. “

However, he suggested that his government, which will take office in August, will be committed to the dying agreement. Analysts say the lifting of sanctions will be critical to Raisi’s hopes of easing economic pressure on Iranians.

Shoppers at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran on Sunday. Analysts believe that easing sanctions will be crucial to Raisi’s hopes of easing economic pressure on Iranians © Morteza Nikoubazl / AFP / Getty

His victory has been marred by the lowest turnout in a presidential poll since the 1979 revolution in which more than half of voters stayed home.

Biden said he will join the agreement, which the Trump administration unilaterally abandoned in 2018, if Iran returns to compliance with the agreement after it has dramatically increased its nuclear activity in the past two years. The Islamic regime insisted that all U.S. sanctions must first be lifted – and its removal verified – before returning to its commitments.

“It’s the United States that has violated the JCPOA,” Raisi said. “I urge the United States, it is you who have been committed to removing the sanctions and you have not done so. Go back and implement your commitments.”

The outgoing government of President Hassan Rouhani, architect of the agreement, has been holding talks for months with the remaining signatories to the agreement – the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia – to pave the way for the United States to return. and lift the sanctions. The US has been an observer to the discussions, but not directly involved.

When asked if his government would be willing to hold direct negotiations with the Biden administration, Raisi did not give an explicit answer, instead saying, “My serious suggestion to the United States … is to show l. ‘honesty by lifting sanctions’.

Iran’s economy has been plunged into a deep recession after Trump withdrew from the agreement and imposed waves of sanctions on the Islamic republic. Punitive measures have paralyzed the state’s ability to export oil, the state’s main source of hard currency, and have pushed inflation above 46 percent when the real falls. The recession has been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.

Raisi, who is widely perceived to have been supported by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, insisted that Iran’s support for militant groups across the region and the development of its missile program were not forthcoming. not negotiable. “

The Biden administration is putting pressure on the United States and Israel and its Arab partners, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to extend any agreement with Iran to include these issues. They say Tehran is destabilizing the region and threatening its security. Iran denies that its support for militias and its arsenal of missiles are vital deterrents. Any decision on major foreign policy issues is determined by Khamenei.

Raisi, who has been the subject of sanctions by the Trump administration in 2019, also rejected allegations that he had overseen abuses in the judiciary, saying his document showed he was a “defender” of rights. humans.

Accusations over the incoming president’s human rights records threaten to further complicate Iran’s relations with the West. “As a lawyer, I have always defended people’s rights,” he said. “Human rights have been crucial to my responsibilities.”

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