On Wednesday, Iran’s president indicated his nation was serious about salvaging an agreement to place limitations on its nuclear program, but he questioned if Iran could trust the United States’ commitment to any ultimate pact.
In 2018, then-President Trump backed out of an agreement negotiated by Obama’s team. As a result, over time, Tehran has disregarded all of the restrictions on its nuclear enrichment that were included in the agreement.
As negotiations to resurrect the nuclear agreement reached a take-it-or-leave-it point, Ebrahim Raisi addressed the United Nations General Assembly.
It was the United States, Raisi pointed out, who withdrew from the agreement, so all we ask for is that people keep their word.
He questioned Iran’s ability to “really believe without guarantees and assurances” that the United States will follow through on its promises this time.
Officials from the European Union have expressed concern that time is running out to reach an agreement. Restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program were included in a 2015 deal in return for sanctions relief worth billions of dollars, which Tehran claims it has never received.
President Raisi, who took office only a year ago, declared, “America stomped over the nuclear pact.” This will be his first time speaking at the United Nations in his current capacity as president. His statements to the assembly last year were made virtually owing to COVID-19 regulations.
He also criticized what he saw as unfair focus on Iran’s nuclear program while others, including Israel’s, were left in the dark.
Raisi, who was wearing the customary black turban of Shiite clergy, told the assembled leaders that Iran seeks “broad connections with all our neighbors,” an apparent allusion to regional rival Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been reduced somewhat via direct negotiations since Vice President Joe Biden assumed office in the United States. But at the same time, the United Arab Emirates has just reopened its embassy in Tehran and sent an ambassador.
Sanctions on Iran, which Raisi called a “punishment on the people of Iran,” were also strongly condemned by the Iranian foreign minister.
Iranian funds have been depleted by Western sanctions, which have also contributed to inflation that reached 40% in 2017. The Iranian rial dropped to an all-time low versus the dollar this summer.
The timing of Raisi’s speech in Iran is especially fraught. The murder of a 22-year-old woman who was being detained by the morality police for allegedly breaching the Islamic Republic’s strict-enforced clothing code has sparked protests in places throughout the nation, including the capital, in recent days.
However, some Iranian authorities have blamed unspecified foreign nations of using the tragedy to stir up discontent, while Raisi has only extended condolences to the woman’s family and promised an inquiry. Many Iranians, especially the country’s young people, have been harboring pent-up resentment at the country’s governing mullahs, and her death has stoked the flames.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been said to groom Raisi, who was elected last year despite poor voter participation and numerous disqualified candidates.
U.S. sanctions on Raisi were imposed this year in part because he was responsible for the execution of hundreds of political detainees in 1988, little over a decade after the Islamic Revolution toppled the shah and installed the present theocratic-led regime in Iran.