The Iranian president-elect said on Monday that he would not meet with President Joe Biden or negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missile program and support for regional militias, sticking to an intransigent stance after his landslide election victory. last week.
The head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raisi also described himself as a “human rights defender” when asked about his involvement in the mass execution of some 5,000 people in 1988. It was the first time it was staged on live television on that dark moment in Iranian history at the end of the Iran-Iraq war.
“The United States is compelled to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran,” Raisi said at the press conference.
EMERGENCY CLOSURE OF IRAN’S ONLY NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Raisi sat in front of a sea of microphones, most of them from Iran and countries with Tehran-backed militias. He looked nervous at the start of the comments, but slowly relaxed during the hour-long press conference.
Asked about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for regional militias, Raisi called the issues “non-negotiable.”
Tehran’s fleet of attack planes dates back largely to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, forcing Iran to invest in missiles to protect itself against its regional Arab neighbors, which bought billions of dollars in military equipment. American over the years. Iran also relies on militias like Yemen’s Houthis and Lebanon’s Hezbollah to counterbalance enemies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, respectively.
Upon meeting Biden, Raisi simply replied, “No.” His moderate contender in the election, Abdolnasser Hemmati, had suggested during the campaign that he would potentially be willing to meet with Biden.
The White House did not immediately respond to Raisi’s statements on Monday.
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Raisi, a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been sanctioned by the United States in part for his involvement in the mass executions. His victory in last Friday’s election came amid the lowest turnout in Islamic Republic history. Millions of Iranians stayed at home in defiance of a vote they saw as tilted in favor of Raisi.
Of those who voted, 3.7 million people accidentally or intentionally canceled their ballots, well above the number seen in previous elections and suggesting that some did not want any of the four candidates. In the official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes in total, nearly 62% of the total of 28.9 million votes.
Raisi’s election puts a firm hard line on government control as talks in Vienna continue to try to salvage a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran enriches uranium to 60 % of its highest level on record, though still short of weapon quality levels. Representatives of world powers parties to the deal returned to their capitals for consultations after the last round of negotiations on Sunday.
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Senior diplomats from countries involved in the talks said further progress was made on Sunday between Iran and world powers in an attempt to restore a landmark 2015 deal to contain Iranian nuclear development that was scrapped by the Trump administration. They said it was now up to the governments involved in the negotiations to make political decisions.
Raisi’s electoral victory has raised fears that it will complicate an eventual return to the nuclear deal.
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