President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday Iran’s foreign policy will not be limited by its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, holding his first news conference since winning Friday’s election.
Raisi, 60, an ultraconservative and strident critic of the West, will take over from pragmatist Hassan Rouhani in August as Iran seeks to salvage the tattered nuclear deal and be rid of punishing US sanctions that have induced a sharp economic downturn.
“Our foreign policy will not be limited to the nuclear deal,” Raisi said in Tehran. “We will have interaction with the world. We will not tie the Iranian people’s interests to the nuclear deal.”
Iranian and Western officials alike say Raisi’s rise is unlikely to alter Iran’s negotiating stance in talks to revive the nuclear deal - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei already has final say on all major policy.
Raisi also said the US had violated the deal and the European Union had failed to fulfill its commitments.
“I urge the US to return to its commitment to the deal...All sanctions imposed on Iran must be lifted and verified by Tehran,” he said.
Negotiations have been ongoing in Vienna since April to work out how Iran and the US can both return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which Washington abandoned in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and then reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Iran has subsequently breached the deal’s limits on enrichment of uranium, designed to minimize the risk of it developing nuclear weapons potential. Tehran has long denied having any such ambition.