August 4, 2021

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Newly elected Iran president wants nuclear talks but says he won’t meet with Biden

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has said he supports talks between his country and six world powers, including the US, but insists he would not meet with US President Joe Biden even if Washington lifted all sanctions against Iran.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Raisi, who is set to replace President Hassan Rouhani on 3 August after his weekend election victory, said his government will “support the negotiations that guarantee our national interests”, according to Reuters.

The revival of the 2015 nuclear deal would lift crippling sanctions imposed by the US under former President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration walked away from the deal in 2018 before reimposing sanctions on Iran. In response, the Middle Eastern country defied limits outlined in pact on the enrichment of uranium, which had been imposed to prevent Iran from having the potential to develop nuclear weapons.

Talks have been ongoing in Vienna since April in an effort to see Iran and the US return to the nuclear deal.

Surrounded by microphones, Mr Raisi, a staunch critic of the West, told reporters on Monday: “America should immediately return to the deal and fulfil its obligations under the deal.”

He also demanded that “all US sanctions must be lifted and verified by Tehran”.

Asked whether he would agree to meet Mr Biden if Washington did lift sanctions on Iran, however, Mr Raisi said: “No”.

“My serious proposal to the United States government is for them to return [to the deal] in an expedited manner,” Mr Raisi said, according to CNN. “In doing so they will prove their sincerity,” he said.

“The people of Iran do not have good memories of the JCPOA,” he continued, referring to the formal name of the nuclear pact. “The Americans trampled on the JCPOA and the Europeans failed to live up to their commitment.”.

“I reiterate to the US that you were committed to lifting the sanctions – come back and live up to your commitments,” he said.

Mr Raisi also championed himself as a “defender of human rights” after being asked about his role in the 1988 mass execution of as many as 5,000 people.

The now-president elect was part of a so-called “death panel” believed to have seen thousands of political prisoners sentenced to death at the end of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

Questioned on his role, he said: “I am proud of being a defender of human rights and of people’s security and comfort as a prosecutor wherever I was,” according to The Associated Press.

“All actions I carried out during my office were always in the direction of defending human rights,” he said.

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