Iran President-Elect Warns Over Nuclear Talks

Iran President-Elect Warns Over Nuclear Talks: At his first news conference since his victory in Friday’s election, Ebrahim Raisi promised he would not allow the talks in Vienna to be dragged out. He also insisted that Iran’s ballistic missile program was “not negotiable”. The nuclear deal has been close to collapse since the US abandoned it and reinstated sanctions three years ago.

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Mr Raisi, a hard-line Shia Muslim cleric who is head of Iran’s judiciary; and is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; won Friday’s election by a landslide, with 62% of the vote in the first round.

However, turnout was just under 49%; a record low for a presidential poll in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution; following calls for a boycott from dissidents and some reformists in response to the disqualification of several prominent candidates; who might have provided serious competition.

Iran nuclear talks

On Monday, Mr Raisi described Iranians’ participation in the election as a message of “unity and cohesion”; and a sign that they continued to “walk the path” of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

He also said voters had given him a mandate to “fight against corruption, poverty, and discrimination”; which he had accused the moderate President Hassan Rouhani of failing to tackle during the campaign.

Mr Raisi said his approach to foreign policy would not limited by the nuclear deal negotiated by Mr Rouhani; which saw Iran agree to limit its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

On the Vienna talks, he said: “We will not allow negotiations to be for negotiations’ sake. Negotiations should not dragged out but each sitting should bear results. A result-oriented [negotiation] is important to us and it should have an outcome for the Iranian nation.”

US Deal

Mr Raisi urged the US to immediately return to the deal and lift all the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. When asked if he would meet President Joe Biden if it did so, he replied: “No.”

He likewise dismissed the possibility of any negotiations over Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional policies, including its support of armed groups in several countries, despite calls by Western countries for them to be part of any new agreement reached in Vienna.

On Sunday, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said representatives in Vienna were “closer than ever to an agreement”, but that bridging the remaining gap was “not an easy job”.

Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, meanwhile warned world powers “to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement”.

He said Mr Raisi, who had involved in the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988 when he had Tehran’s deputy prosecutor, had part of a “regime of brutal hangmen”.

When questioned about his human rights record on Monday, Mr Raisi said: “I am proud to have defended human rights in every position I have held so far.”

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