Iran’s hardline president-elect Ebrahim Raisi says he will not meet with Biden
Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday ruled out a meeting with President Joe Biden and called on the United States to return to the nuclear deal, in his first international news conference since he won Iran’s election over the weekend.
Raisi said he would not meet with Biden, even if both sides agreed on terms to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to stop uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of crippling US sanctions.
On Saturday, the hardline judiciary chief and staunch Western critic was declared the winner of a historically uncompetitive election in Iran. All of Raisi’s serious rivals were barred from the race and overall voter turnout was 48.8%, the lowest figure since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
He will become the country’s eighth president when he takes over from Hassan Rouhani in August. Iran is currently indirectly negotiating with the US in Vienna over how to salvage the nuclear agreement, which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from in 2018.
Responding to a question from CNN at Monday’s news conference in Tehran, the President-elect accused the US and European Union of violating the deal, and called on Biden to lift all sanctions before adding that the country’s ballistic missile program was “not up for negotiation.”
“My serious proposal to the United States government is for them to return [to the agreement] in an expedited manner .. in doing so they will prove their sincerity,” Raisi said. “The people of Iran do not have good memories of the JCPOA,” Raisi added, referring to the formal name of the nuclear deal.
“The Americans trampled on the JCPOA and the Europeans failed to live up to their commitment. I reiterate to the US that you were committed to lifting the sanctions — come back and live up to your commitments,” he said in his opening statement.
The new Iranian leader said that the maximum pressure sanctions campaign on the country, first instituted by the Trump administration, “was not successful.”
“Up until today, maximum pressure was not successful on our people, they [the US] must change their minds, and come back to reason. Our people have shown they can withstand the pressure,” he said.
Raisi welcomed diplomacy and dialogue, but said that Iran’s foreign policy would not be limited to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Trump abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran. In response, Tehran resumed some nuclear activities. In April, the country announced its intention to enrich uranium up to 60% purity, pushing the country closer to reaching the 90% enrichment level that is considered weapons-grade. Iran has repeatedly denied it plans to assemble nuclear weapons.