Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says nation wants nuclear talks which lead to lifting of U.S. sanctions

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Iran wants to resume nuclear talks with world powers that would lead to removal of U.S. sanctions, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told the annual U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday as negotiations about reinstating a 2015 nuclear pact have stalled.

“The Islamic Republic considers the useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive (U.S.) sanctions,” Raisi said in his pre-recorded address.

“The (U.S.) policy of ‘maximum oppression’ is still on. We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules. All parties must stay true to the nuclear deal and the U.N. Resolution in practice,” he said.

Iran and the United States in April started indirect talks in Vienna on salvaging the nuclear agreement, but those stopped two days after Raisi was elected as Iran’s president in June.

Under the 2015 agreement, Iran curbed its uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear arms, in return for the lifting of U.S., U.N. and E.U. sanctions. Former U.S. President Donald Trump quit the deal three years ago and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors that have crippled its economy.

Hardline cleric Raisi, who is under personal U.S. sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in his past as a judge, said the U.S. sanctions “were crimes against humanity during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The reimposition of U.S. sanctions by Trump in 2018 prompted Tehran to violate the nuclear deal’s limits. Tehran says its nuclear steps are reversible if Washington lifts all sanctions.

Raisi, echoing Iran’s official stance for years, said nuclear weapons “have no place in our defence doctrine and deterrence policy.”

Tehran signalled on Tuesday that the negotiations in Vienna would resume in a few weeks, without giving a specific date. Despite Iran’s need to bolster its economy by negotiating an end to U.S. sanctions, insiders expect Raisi to adopt a tougher line when the talks resume.

Iranian and Western officials have said many issues remain to be resolved before the accord could be revived.

A strident critic of the West, Raisi said the United States had “no credibility to enforce its hegemony.”

“From the Capitol to Kabul, one clear message was sent to the world: the United States’ hegemonic system has no credibility, whether inside or outside the country,” Raisi said.

He was referring to the January 6 assault by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol as well as the chaotic withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August.

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