The ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi, a Shiite cleric and sanctioned by the United States, took office on August 5 as the new president of the Persian country. After doing so, he urged the White House to eliminate sanctions against his country, amid ongoing negotiations to try to rescue the historic 2015 Nuclear Agreement. Washington responded that it is willing to negotiate to reactivate the pact, but not indefinitely. .
Raisi assumed leadership of Iran for the next four years. The Shiite cleric and former head of the Judiciary, known for his distrust in the West, assumes the reins of a country hit by US sanctions, the health crisis and with the challenge of saving the thorny negotiations on the Nuclear Agreement.
Iran’s indirect talks with the United States to save the historic pact sealed in 2015 with the major world powers are stalled and Washington maintains crippling sanctions against the country’s economy.
In his inauguration speech in front of Parliament, Raisi described the country’s situation at “the highest level of hostilities by the enemies of Iran, unjust economic sanctions, generalized psychological warfare (…) and difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic. ”.
As a result of Washington’s sanctions over its nuclear program, the Islamic Republic faces explosive inflation, declining revenues, continuous blackouts and water shortages, a cocktail of scarcity that has sparked various protests.
Unable to sell its oil abroad, Iran has seen its economy collapse and its currency plummet, hitting ordinary citizens hard.
Raisi, who is also sanctioned by the US government after accusations of human rights abuses when he was a judge, promised to take measures to lift the measures that have reduced exports of Iranian crude oil and exclude the country from the international banking system. .
“The Iranian people hope that the new government will improve their livelihoods … All illegal US sanctions against the Iranian nation must be lifted,” Raisi said after taking the oath and vowing to serve the nation and improve ties. with your neighbors.
The new Iranian president indicated that he was willing to use diplomatic channels, which is an incentive for nuclear negotiations in Vienna with the great powers.
Likewise, Raisi indicated that he would use diplomacy to repair differences with neighbors, a subtle reference to Sunni rival Saudi Arabia. But he also noted that Iran seeks to expand its power as a counterweight to enemies throughout the region.
“Wherever there is oppression and crime in the world, in the heart of Europe, in the United States, Africa, Yemen, Syria, Palestine (…) we will support the people,” he said, referring to Iranian-backed militias such as those of Yemen or the Houthi rebels and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
US urges rapid reactivation of negotiations with Iran
Just after the inauguration speech of the new Iranian president, the Government of Joe Biden indicated that it is willing to negotiate to reactivate the nuclear talks, but that it will not do so indefinitely.
From Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price assured that his country will wait to see what approach the new government of Iran will take.
“Our message to President Raisi is the same as the message to his predecessors and it is very simple: The United States will defend and advance our national security interests and those of our partners,” he said.
However, Price urged the new Iranian president to resume talks “soon”, maintaining that the diplomatic window will not remain open forever. “We hope that Iran will seize the opportunity now to promote diplomatic solutions,” he stressed.
Under the pact signed six years ago, Tehran promised to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the withdrawal of international sanctions, but in 2018 the then US president, Donald Trump, withdrew from the Agreement and reimposed the financial penalties that have paralyzed the Iranian economy.
In response, Tehran has since violated the limits imposed on its nuclear activities under the Agreement.
The country now enriches a small amount of uranium by up to 63%, well above the 3.67% limited in the Accord. Also, much closer to the 90% that is required to make a nuclear weapon. A situation that worries nuclear non-proliferation experts, although Tehran insists that its program is peaceful.
The new Iranian president, like Khamenei, supports the nuclear talks, although he is expected to take a tougher line. And it is that, in Iran, although the president has leadership, the supreme leader has the last word in all state affairs, including nuclear policy.
Iranian and Western officials have said significant gaps remain in the nuclear talks and have not yet announced when the talks, the latest round of which ended on June 20, will resume.
While economic and nuclear issues are at the center of battles that Raisi hopes to at least ease, his tenure begins just a week after other tensions with various nations began to simmer.
The drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman and administered by Israel, has Tehran on the brink of a confrontation with the West.
The United States, Israel and the United Kingdom hold him responsible for the incident. Despite the Islamic Republic refusing to be involved, the Israeli government warned Thursday that it would respond promptly to any threat to its security.
With Reuters and AP