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Iran’s new president is saying he will not meet with President Biden — refusing to negotiate over Tehran’s ballistic missile program, demanding America “lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran,” and insisting Iran will continue funding regional militias, in remarks delivered Monday.
Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline judge who was elected president last week, is taking the helm in Iran as the Biden administration is engaged with world powers on rejoining the nuclear deal — talks that have been underway since April in Vienna.
Raisi, a protege of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday accused the US and the European Union of breaching the agreement the Obama administration brokered with Iran, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia in 2015.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reinstated economic sanctions against Tehran.
“The U.S. is obliged to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran,” Raisi said at his first televised news conference.
Asked if he would meet with Biden, Raisi responded: “No.”
And despite his serving on a “death commission” that ordered the execution of 5,000 Iranian political and military prisoners in 1988, Raisi touted his dedication to upholding human rights.
“I am proud of being a defender of human rights and of people’s security and comfort as a prosecutor wherever I was,” he said. “All actions I carried out during my office were always in the direction of defending human rights.”
“Today in the presidential post, I feel obliged to defend human rights,” he added.
The trials involved members of an Iranian opposition group supported by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that launched a surprise attack that was repelled by Iranian forces at the end of the Iraq-Iran war.
According to international rights groups, members of the opposition forces, as well as political dissidents, were rounded up and executed.
Raisi also said issues like Tehran’s support for regional militias like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels and its ballistic missile programs were “non-negotiable.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham and Israel’s newly minted prime minister on Sunday warned the Biden administration of the consequences of rejoining the nuclear accord with Iran.
“There are no moderates on the ballot in Iran. The ayatollah is a religious Nazi, he controls the place. Religious zealots run the place. Why in the world do you want to give massive enrichment capability to the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, I don’t know,” Graham (R-SC) said on “Fox News Sunday.”
He predicted that if the deal is rekindled, the Middle East would be thrust into an arms race and Israel would end up having to resort to force to neutralize the threat from Iran.
“If you go back into this deal with the Iranians, you’re going to have a nuclear arms race in the Mideast and you’re going to put Israel in a box so they have to use military force,” he said.
Naftali Bennett, who replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister last week, advised the US to “wake up.”
“Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement, and understand who they are doing business with,” Bennett said. “A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass-destruction.”
With Post wires
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