Iranian president says US must guarantee it will stay in nuclear deal

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in his first interview with US media, said the Biden administration’s promise to join a new nuclear deal was ‘meaningless’ without a guarantee that the US would not withdraw again unilaterally from the agreement in the future.

“If it’s a good deal and a fair deal, we’d be serious about getting a deal. It has to be sustainable,” Raisi said, speaking through an interpreter in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, which was conducted last week in Tehran and aired Sunday night. But he added: “We cannot trust the Americans because of the behavior we have already seen from them. That is why if there is no guarantee, there is no trust.

Tehran’s demand to guarantee that the United States would stay in a new deal has become one of the main sticking points in the failure of Iran and world powers to negotiate a deal to replace the 2015 version. from which the Trump administration pulled out in 2018. Negotiations that began almost a year and a half ago have now sputtered to a virtual halt.

Administration negotiators made it clear early on in the talks, which include Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – all signatories to the original deal, as well as the United States and Iran – that no US administration has the power to bind the actions of its successor.

Since July, when European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, whose office coordinated the talks, sent Tehran and Washington what he called a “final text” of every issue that had successfully negotiated, the two capitals exchanged two sets of responses without an Agreement. No further discussion is planned.

Raisi, elected in June 2021 and widely seen as a hardliner, said there would be no benefit to meeting President Biden — something the White House has shown no interest in — when the two leaders will attend the United Nations General Assembly this week. “The new administration in the United States, they claim they’re different from the Trump administration,” he said. He added: “But we have not witnessed any change in reality.”

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Biden campaigned by pledging to restore the original nuclear deal with Iran, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions in exchange for tough curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, as well as monitoring and verification international. After pulling out of what he called a “bad deal” brokered by his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump reimposed the lifted sanctions and added more for what he called “maximum pressure” that would capitulate Iran.

Instead, Iran has gone far beyond the limits imposed by the deal, increasing the quantity and quality of enriched uranium needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly stated that it has no intention of developing such a weapon. Raisi said Iran’s nuclear program is for medical and agricultural use.

As the possibility of a new deal has grown increasingly dubious, the administration has added Iran sanctions to the list, while attacks on US interests in Syria and Iraq that it accuses of be the work of Iranian proxies have multiplied. Iran has worked to circumvent US sanctions by exporting much of its oil to China and selling weapons to Russia – including what the US says are armed drones used in Ukraine.

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Raisi said Iran would “not forget” the January 2020 assassination of Qasem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was killed by a US drone strike. Calling it a “heinous crime”, he said “we want justice done”.

Last month, the Biden administration indicted an Iranian national with alleged ties to the Revolutionary Guards. The government has accused the Iranian, charged in absentia, of financing a plot to assassinate former Trump national security adviser John Bolton. Asked if his government had ordered Bolton’s assassination in retaliation for Soleimani’s murder, Raisi replied: “This is the type of action that American and Zionist regimes are doing around the world. We are not going to carry out the same actions.

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