TEHRAN: Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that he will not allow nuclear negotiations for the sake of negotiations, in his first news conference since his election last week.
Raisi, 60, won Friday’s election in which more than half the voters stayed away after many political heavyweights had been barred from running and as an economic crisis driven by US sanctions has battered the country.
Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric who heads Iran’s judiciary, will replace moderate President Hassan Rouhani — whose landmark achievement was a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers — in August.
“Any negotiations that guarantee national interests will certainly be supported, but… we will not allow negotiations to be for negotiation’s sake,” Raisi said, adding that his election followed a “massive” voter turnout.
The 2015 deal saw Iran accept limits on its nuclear capabilities in return for an easing of sanctions, but former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew three years later and ramped up sanctions, prompting the Islamic republic to pull back from its nuclear commitments.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to return to the deal and state parties — also including China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — have lately been negotiating its revival in Vienna.
Raisi, who is subject to US sanctions imposed over the executions of political prisoners in 1988, has in the past denied he played a role in the killings.
At the press conference on Monday, Raisi said he has “always” defended human rights.
“All that I have done through my years of service has always been towards defending human rights,” said the Iranian president-elect, while accusing the west of violating human rights.
Raisi also said he has no intentions of meeting Biden.
“No,” was his flat response to a question from an American media outlet on whether he would meet his future counterpart in the event the talks lead to the US lifting sanctions on Iran, and to try and “fix” the issues between the two arch enemies. AFP