Iran, Raisi: Yes to nuclear agreement, no to meeting with Biden

The newly elected president supports the Vienna talks and is in favour of the full reinstatement of the JCPOA. But he excludes a face to face with his US counterpart even in the event of complete cancellation of the sanctions. He confirms that "regional activities and ballistic missile program" are non-negotiable.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi supports talks between Tehran and the six world powers - including indirect negotiations with the United States - to restore the nuclear agreement. The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by cancelled disavowed three years later late by then US leader Donald Trump. However, Raisi strongly excludes a possible face-to-face with current White House tenant Joe Biden, even if Washington were to remove all sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In the first press conference following the election, held yesterday afternoon, Raisi said that one of the objectives of foreign policy is to improve relations with the Arab nations of the Gulf. He then called for an immediate end to Saudi Arabia's military operations in neighbouring Yemen. The 60-year-old ultra-conservative leader, who will take over from moderate Hassan Rouhani on August 3, sees a "national interest" in the nuclear deal.

The White House stated that no meetings with the Iranian president-elect are planned at the moment and that, in reality, the real "decision maker" in Tehran is the supreme guide Ali Khamenei, diminishing the role of Raisi.

The new president is one of the many entities - including individuals and businesses - subject to US sanctions for his involvement in the extrajudicial killings of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988. When asked about the matter, Raisi replied that a judge must be "praised" when it "defends" the "safety of its people".

By relaunching Khamenei's position, the future president confirmed that "the regional activities and the ballistic missile program" of the Islamic Republic, which worry the rival powers of the Middle East, primarily Riyadh, "are non-negotiable".

Recently, Tehran progressively violated the terms of the pact by easing restrictions on nuclear activities. The first steps in this direction date back to 2019, in response to the May 2018 withdrawal by the then US President Donald Trump from the JCPOA and the reintroduction of the toughest sanctions in history, causing a collapse of the Iranian economy. The temporary agreement expires on June 24, but international diplomacies show cautious optimism.