by Tim Korso
Chief Justice of Iran Ebrahim Raisi won presidential race over the weekend and will replace current President Hassan Rouhani in August of this year. His election has sparked concerns about Tehran’s readiness to engage in diplomacy due to Raisi being an anti-West hardliner.
Newly elected president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has stated during his first press conference that under his government Tehran will continue to engage in talks regarding the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal), but added that the country’s diplomacy will not be limited to them.
“Our foreign policy will not be limited to the nuclear deal. We will have interaction with the world. We will not tie the Iranian people’s interests to the nuclear deal”, Raisi said.
Raisi further said that Tehran is not planning to hold nuclear talks just for the sake of negotiations, stressing that the result must correspond to the country’s sovereign interests. He noted that Iran’s missile programme cannot be a part of these negotiations, even though in the past, the US had suggested that imposing limits on the Iranian missile programme might become part of a renewed nuclear accord.
“We do not intend to negotiate a nuclear deal if they do not ensure the interests of our country”, the new president said.
The new president went on to lambast the 2018 decision by the US to withdraw from the nuclear accord, accusing Washington of “violating” it by imposing sanctions on Iran. The latter must be lifted in full, he noted, although Washington had earlier suggested that some of the measures might stay in place even if the deal is renegotiated. Raisi, however, said he has no plans so far to meet US President Joe Biden in order to discuss this issue.
He also stated that the US was not the only party to blame in the degradation of the 2015 agreement, noting that the European Union too “did not follow [its] provisions” after Washington’s withdrawal.
Future of Iran Nuclear Deal
The nuclear accord negotiated in 2015 by the US, EU, Russia, China, and Iran is effectively defunct at the moment, with Iran not upholding its commitments to limit its nuclear activities and Washington maintaining unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The JCPOA ended up in such a dire state following the decision by the Trump administration in 2018 to pull the US out of the accord and impose “maximum pressure” sanctions on Tehran.
Yet, efforts to revive the deal were launched earlier this year, with Iran reporting certain progress at renegotiating the JCPOA and the countries’ return to compliance during the latest round of talks in Geneva.
Some media outlets alleged that a pause in nuclear talks was taken in order to wait for the outcome of the Iranian presidential election, which took place last weekend. Chief Justice of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, who is known for his staunch anti-West approach, won the majority of votes. But, regardless of his stance toward the West, he’s repeatedly praised the efforts at renegotiating the JCPOA as a way of lifting the sanctions burden off Iran.