In his first press conference as Iran’s president-elect, ultra-conservative judge Ebrahim Raisi maintained his harshness in his anti-American speech, said he would not meet Joe Biden even if US sanctions were imposed. were lifted – one of his demands – and listed relations with neighboring countries in the Arab Gulf as the priority of his foreign policy.
Raisi, 60, known to be a vocal critic of the West, was elected in the first round with 61.95% of the vote. In addition to having been marked by the lowest turnout since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the election saw some of the main candidates disqualified by the Council of Guardians – a body in which, as chief of the judiciary, Raisi had the prerogative to appoint half of the members.
The future president is expected to take office in August, replacing Hasan Rowhani, as Iran seeks to bypass economic difficulties by ending US sanctions imposed in response to the breach of the nuclear deal between the two countries.
This Monday (21), in Tehran, Raisi said that Washington had violated the agreement and that the European Union had not kept its commitments either. Demandingly, he declared that all sanctions imposed on Iran must be lifted immediately and that he would not tolerate “negotiations for the sake of doing business” on Iran’s nuclear program.
“We support negotiations which guarantee our national interests. America must immediately return to the agreement and fulfill its obligations,” he said. When asked if, in the face of a possible end to sanctions, he would agree to meet with Biden, Raisi simply replied, “No.”
Negotiations on a possible resumption of the agreement have been underway in Vienna since April. Under Donald Trump, the United States walked out of the pact and reimposed sanctions on Iran, while Tehran violated the terms of the uranium enrichment deal, even though it denies having it. ambition to develop nuclear weapons.
Despite demands from Western Arab and Gulf countries that Iran’s ballistic missile program be included in negotiations to revive the deal, Raisi considers the issue non-negotiable. “They [os EUA] broke the previous agreement. How do you want to get into new discussions? “
Raisi himself is the target of sanctions imposed by Washington for his participation in what the United States and human rights groups describe as the extrajudicial murder of thousands of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic in 1988. In As a judge, Raisi would have authorized deaths and torture, according to dissident complaints and international inquiries.
Speaking to reporters, the president-elect said he has always stood up for human rights and has been punished by the United States for doing his job as a judge when he said he would have had to be rewarded for standing up for Iranian rights and security. people.
Raisi’s election, however, is unlikely to change Iran’s stance on fundamental issues. First, because decisions like those concerning the nuclear deal are not the responsibility of the president, but of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in the conduct of Iranian policy. Moreover, for analysts, the country must adopt a pragmatic foreign policy; if not out of conviction, at least out of necessity, as the sanctions have considerably worsened the economy.
As international attention focuses on this issue, Raisi has said Iran’s foreign policy will not be limited to the nuclear deal. “Iran wants interaction with the world. My government’s priority will be to improve ties with our neighbors in the region.”
The president-elect, however, urged Saudi Arabia to immediately cease its interference in Yemen. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in the 2015 Yemen war after Iran-backed Houthi forces overthrew the local government. Tehran and Riyadh have waged proxy wars in the region for decades.
Saudi Arabia, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, and Iran, where the Shiite population predominates, have waged proxy wars for decades in several countries in the Middle East. In 2016, they broke off their relationship. In April, in order to contain the escalation of tensions, Tehran and Riyadh began direct negotiations in Iraq. On Monday, Raisi said reopening the Saudi embassy would not be a problem for Iran and that the resumption of diplomatic representation activities would at least be a sign of progress for Iranian regional alliances.