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Raisi: Iran ready to resume nuclear talks, but without Western ‘pressure’

New hardline Iranian president says ‘talks are on the agenda’; negotiations yet to resume since pause following his election in June

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks before parliament in the capital Tehran, on August 25, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks before parliament in the capital Tehran, on August 25, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that the country is ready to hold talks with world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, but not under Western “pressure.”

“The Westerners and the Americans are after talks together with pressure… What kind of talks is that? I have already announced that we will have talks on our government’s agenda but not with… pressure,” Raisi told state television, according to a Reuters report.

He added that “talks are on the agenda… We are seeking goal-oriented negotiations … so unjust sanctions on the Iranian people are lifted… and their lives can flourish.”

The stalled talks aimed at reviving the agreement with world powers will likely not resume for another two to three months, Tehran’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Steered by the European Union, the talks began in April and seek to bring the United States back into a deal agreed in 2015. Former US president Donald Trump abandoned the accord in 2018 and began imposing tough sanctions on Iran.

Negotiations were adjourned on June 20, two days after ultraconservative Raisi won Iran’s presidential election, and no date has been set for a resumption of dialogue.

TV cameras in front of the ‘Grand Hotel Vienna’ where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on June 20, 2021. (Florian Schroetter/AP)

Raisi became president in early August, taking over from moderate Hassan Rouhani, the principal architect on the Iranian side of the 2015 agreement.

Raisi’s government was sworn in on August 26 after receiving parliamentary approval.

The 2015 deal offered Iran an easing of Western and United Nations sanctions in return for tight controls on its nuclear program, monitored by the UN.

In retaliation for Trump’s withdrawal three years ago and his subsequent imposition of punishing sanctions, Iran in effect abandoned most of its commitments under the deal.

But Trump’s successor, US President Joe Biden, wants to bring Washington back into the agreement.

The talks in Vienna involve Iran and the five other remaining parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The US also takes part in the talks but has no direct contact with Iran.

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