Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi said Saturday that talks to revive the nuclear deal are on the agenda of his government, but he wants to pursue negotiations without “pressure” from the US and other Western countries.
“The Westerners and the Americans are after talks together with pressure,” Raisi said in an interview with state TV. “I have already announced that we will have talks on our government’s agenda but not with … pressure.”
Raisi said Iran wants “goal-oriented” talks that ultimately achieve sanctions relief. The Biden administration’s initial refusal to lift all Trump-era sanctions forced Iran into negotiations, which started in April and have been delayed since June 20th.
Raisi made similar comments in a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday. “We do not oppose useful negotiations, but the plan and result of negotiations must be the lifting of sanctions against Iran,” Raisi said in the call. He added that Iran was not interested in “negotiations for the sake of negotiations.”
While the talks have been delayed, the US has added pressure on Iran by imposing new sanctions. The latest measures were imposed Friday over an alleged plot to kidnap an Iranian-American journalist. Tehran denies it was involved in the bizarre kidnap plot and dismissed it as a “Hollywood scenario.”
“Supporters and merchants of sanctions, who see their sanctions toolbox empty due to Iran’s maximum resistance, are now resorting to Hollywood scenarios to keep the sanctions alive,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in response to the sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the new measures show Washington’s “addiction” to sanctions. “Washington must understand that it has no other choice but to abandon its addiction to sanctions and show respect, both in its statements and in its behavior, towards Iran,” he said.
While Raisi is viewed as a hardliner, he ultimately favors a revival of the JCPOA. But he might not be as patient with the US as his predecessor Hassan Rouani was. And more sanctions from the Biden administration could sabotage future negotiations.