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Iran’s President Says He’s Serious about Reviving Nuke Deal

Iran’s President Says He’s Serious about Reviving Nuke Deal

Wednesday, 21 September, 2022 - 16:00
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers remarks at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters on September 21, 2022 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)

Iran’s president said Wednesday his country was serious about reviving a deal to put curbs on its nuclear program but questioned whether it could trust America's commitment to any eventual accord.

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal brokered by the Obama administration. That has led Tehran to abandon over time every limitation the accord imposed on its nuclear enrichment.

Ebrahim Raisi addressed the UN General Assembly as talks to revive the nuclear deal approached a take-it-or-leave-it moment.

“Our wish is only one thing: observance of commitments,” Raisi said, noting it was the US that pulled out of the accord.

He asked whether Iran can “truly trust without guarantees and assurances” that the US will live up to its commitments this time.

European Union officials have warned the window for securing a deal is about to close. The 2015 agreement placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which Tehran insists it has never received.

“America trampled upon the nuclear accord,” said Raisi, who was sworn in as president only a year ago.

His speech marks the first time he has taken the podium at the UN in his role as president. Last year, he delivered remarks to the assembly virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.

He also blasted what he said was lopsided scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear activities while other nations’ nuclear programs remain secret, a reference to Israel.

Raisi also deplored sanctions imposed on Iran, calling them a “punishment on the people of Iran.”

Western sanctions have eaten away at Iran’s reserves and exacerbated inflation in the country, which hit 40% last year. Over the summer, Iran’s currency hit its lowest level ever against the US dollar.

Raisi's speech comes a politically sensitive time in Iran. Protesters have clashed with police in recent days in cities across the country, including the capital, over the death of a 22-year-old woman who was being held by the morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strictly-enforced dress code.

Raisi has offered condolences to the woman’s family and promised an investigation, while other Iranian officials have accused unnamed foreign countries of seizing on the incident to foment unrest. Her death has ignited long-simmering anger among many Iranians, particularly young people, at the country’s ruling clerics.

Raisi, who was elected last year in a vote that saw low turnout and several candidates disqualified, has been described as a protege of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In 2019, Raisi was sanctioned by the United States in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, a little over a decade after the 1979 revolution overthrew the country’s shah and ushered in its current theocratic-led system.

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