Raeisi made the remarks in an interview with Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network on Thursday.
When asked about the potential of direct talks between Iran and the United States over the deal, he said, “Direct talks with the US over the nuclear agreement is of no avail.”
The deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), came about in Vienna following marathon direct negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries that comprised the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany.
Upon conclusion, the JCPOA was hailed by the United Nations and the European Union, which coordinated the talks, as a pillar of regional and international peace and security.
The US, however, left the deal in 2018 and returned the sanctions that the accord had lifted. In doing so, Washington violated the deal’s multilateral nature and the fact that it has been ratified by the UN Security Council in the form of a resolution.
Raeisi also censured a raft of new sanctions that Washington has imposed on Iran, asking, “If Washington is after an agreement, why does it apply new sanctions during the course of the nuclear talks?”
He noted, “We are determined to put up a decisive defense of Iran’s and its people’s rights” during the negotiations.
He added potential fresh removal of the American sanctions has to be accompanied with relevant “guarantees.”
Iranian officials have, time and again, asserted that upon potentially lifting the sanctions, Washington should be able to guarantee that it would not return the bans again.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the president insisted that for the talks to move on, the “safeguard issues” between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have to be resolved.
Iran ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970, which requires non-nuclear-weapon states to accept comprehensive safeguards that are demanded by the UN agency.
Also, as a goodwill gesture, Iran voluntarily chose to have extensive cooperation with the IAEA, beyond the safeguards agreement.
Back in June, Tehran decided to stop the voluntary cooperation, while stressing that its commitments under the agreement would continue.
Iran and the IAEA are currently locked in a dispute triggered by the agency’s Israeli-influenced accusations, which were leveled against Tehran’s peaceful nuclear activities just as the Islamic Republic and other parties to the Iran deal appeared close to an agreement on reviving the JCPOA.
Iran asserts that an agreement on the revival of the nuclear deal hinges on the settlement of safeguards issues between Tehran and the IAEA and that without settling those issues, reviving the accord makes no sense.
West has to confront nuke-armed Israel: Raeisi
Raeisi also said the West has to ask the Israeli regime to stop its nuclear weapon program instead of picking on Iran over its peaceful nuclear activities.
“Before asking us to stop our nuclear activities, the West has to make this demand on the Zionist regime that owns weapons of mass murder,” he stated.
The occupying regime, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, making it the sole possessor of the non-conventional arms in West Asia.
The occupying entity has, however, refused to either allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the NPT. A total of 191 countries, including Iran, have joined the international pact, which was founded in 1970 with the aim of promoting peaceful nuclear energy programs and pursuing nuclear disarmament around the world.
Talks with Saudi Arabia
Raeisi, meanwhile, touched on ongoing talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia that seek to mend the differences between the two sides.
Riyadh ruptured its diplomatic ties with Tehran in early 2016 following demonstrations which were held in front of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its Consulate in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad by angry protesters censuring the Al Saud family for its earlier killing of the top Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
“Talks with Saudi Arabia continues. We have held five rounds of talks and will continue to hold more,” the president said.
Political stalemate in Iraq
Addressing Iraq’s drawn-out failure to form a government, Raeisi said, “We would be delighted to witness [formation of] a strong government in Iraq.”
The Arab country has been without a government since parliamentary elections in October. Lawmakers faithful to influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr exceeded their fellow aspirants in the polls by winning as many as 73 seats.
The seats are, however, not enough to give them a mandate to break the impasse. Sadr, himself, has said he would not team up with any other bloc to form an alliance that could throw its support behind a new prime minister.
Raeisi said European countries had approached the Islamic Republic concerning the Iraqi crisis, saying, “We told them that this issue concerns the Iraqis.”
The Iranian president also said, “The region’s problems would be solvable if foreign forces stopped their interference [in the regional affairs],” adding, “The Iraqis should not allow the Americans’ presence [in their country].”
In January 2020, the Iraqi parliament approved a law mandating the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the US from the Arab country’s soil.
The legislation was passed after a US drone strike assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and deputy head of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, near Baghdad International Airport.
Both the popular commanders had played key role in eliminating the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
The Iranian president finally addressed the issue of an April-present ceasefire in Yemen.
The truce has been almost holding, despite sporadic violations by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which began waging a war on the Arab world’s poorest nation in March 2015.
President Raeisi said in order for the truce to enter a permanent state, the coalition had to lift a siege that it has been employing against Yemen since the onset of the invasion.