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US envoy to UN vows to ‘continue pressure’ on Iran ahead of General Assembly

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield says no plans for meetings on nuclear deal during gathering of world leaders next week; dissidents demand Iranian president be barred from speaking

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

US Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a press conference, in the United Nations Security Council, September 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
US Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a press conference, in the United Nations Security Council, September 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

UNITED NATIONS — US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday the US will “continue to pressure” Iran over the nuclear inspections that have stalled negotiations ahead of the UN General Assembly next week.

All of the major parties to the negotiations, including Iran, will be represented at the General Assembly, but Thomas-Greenfield said there were no events regarding the nuclear deal scheduled.

Reviving the agreement between Iran and world powers has appeared increasingly unlikely in recent weeks, due to a sticking point over inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, which acts as the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

Iran last week demanded the agency close its investigation into several undeclared nuclear sites, a nonstarter for Western powers at the talks.

“As far as I know no meetings are planned” for the General Assembly, Thomas-Greenfield said. “We will continue the pressure [on Iran] to respond to the IAEA.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged Iran to hold a “serious dialogue” about the UN inspections.

“The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties” in the negotiations, he said.

A UN spokesperson also said Friday that reports an Iranian woman died after being beaten by morality police were “clearly something that needs to be investigated.”

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, August 29, 2022. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is scheduled to address the General Assembly during the gathering of world leaders on Wednesday.

Protesters from the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, also known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, or MEK, held a rally outside the UN on Friday to protest Raisi’s appearance.

The MEK members will be demonstrating near the UN throughout the week and came to New York from around the US and other Western countries, including Canada and Germany. The group is based abroad and has been hounded by Iran while in other countries.

The protesters are demanding action against Raisi, and that he be barred from addressing the UN, for his alleged role in the killing of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in 1988.

They also say he has presided over the deaths of hundreds of protesters and alleged criminals, including minors, in recent years.

Iranian dissidents protest outside the United Nations in New York City, September 16, 2022. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

“The killer is coming here,” one of the protesters said, standing next to a sign reading, “Ban mass murderer Raisi from entering the US.”

MEK filed a civil complaint against Raisi last month in New York federal court alleging crimes against humanity. The protesters hoped the charges would expose Raisi to legal action while he is in New York.

Also threatening to upend Raisi’s plans Friday was a deterioration in the health of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is gravely ill after undergoing surgery last week.

Raisi traveled to Uzbekistan Friday, likely indicating that Khamenei’s condition is not considered critical.

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