Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 19, 2023. AFP
Addressing the annual high-level meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Raisi said the American withdrawal from the deal trampled on U.S. commitments and was “an inappropriate response” to Iran’s fulfillment of its commitments.
Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018, restoring crippling sanctions. Iran began breaking the terms a year later and formal talks in Vienna to try to restart the deal collapsed in August 2022.
Iran has long denied ever seeking nuclear weapons and continues to insist that its program is entirely for peaceful purposes – points Raisi reiterated Tuesday telling the high-level meeting that “nuclear weapons have no place in the defensive doctrine and the military doctrine” of the country.
But U.N. nuclear chief Rafael Grossi said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press that the Iranian government’s removal of many cameras and electronic monitoring systems installed by the International Atomic Energy Agency make it impossible to give assurances about the country’s nuclear program. Grossi has previously warned that Tehran has enough enriched uranium for “several” nuclear bombs if it chose to build them.
The IAEA director general also said Monday he asked to meet Raisi to try to reverse Tehran’s uncalled for ban on “a very sizable chunk” of the agency’s inspectors.
Raisi also accused the United States of worsening the Ukraine war but insisted that Tehran -- which has provided drones to Russia -- would back a peace settlement.
"The United States of America has fanned the flames of violence in Ukraine in order to weaken the European countries. This is a long-term plan, unfortunately," he told the United Nations General Assembly.
Iran has tense relations with the United States which has imposed new sanctions on the cleric-run state for selling the killer drones to Moscow.
But Raisi insisted on the neutrality of Iran, which has largely abstained from resolutions on the Ukraine war.
"We support any initiative for a cessation of hostilities and the war," he said.
Iranian President spoke to the General Assembly a day after Iran and the U.S. each freed five prisoners who were in jails for years. The U.S. also allowed the release of nearly $6 billion in Iranian frozen assets in South Korea for humanitarian use. The five freed Americans arrived in the U.S. earlier Tuesday.
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan walked out of the assembly hall when Raisi got up to speak, carrying a sign with a picture of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in police custody in Iran last year, sparking worldwide protests against the country’s conservative Islamic theocracy.