Iran’s president said Wednesday that the U.S. “trampled upon” Tehran's nuclear accord with world powers in a speech to world leaders at the United Nations.
Ebrahim Raisi addressed the UN General Assembly as talks to revive the nuclear deal approached a take-it-or-leave-it moment, with the president stressing that Iran is "serious" about rejoining the 2015 agreement. Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal in 2018 has led Tehran to abandon over time every limitation the accord imposed on its nuclear enrichment.
“America trampled upon the nuclear accord," said Raisi, who was sworn-in as president only a year ago. His speech marks the first time he has taken the podium at the UN in his role as president. Last year, he delivered remarks to the assembly virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, is boycotting the Iranian President's speech, following his comments earlier this week questioning the Holocaust.
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U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the nuclear accords in his own speech later in the evening. "While the United States is prepared for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, if Iran steps up to its obligations, the United States is clear: We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," he said.
"I continue to believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome. The non-proliferation regime is one of the greatest successes of this institution, we cannot let the world slide backwards nor can we turn a blind eye to the erosion of human rights," Biden continued.
In 2019, Raisi was sanctioned by the United States in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, a little over a decade after the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the country's shah and ushered in its current theocratic-led system.
Wearing a traditional black turban identified with Shiite clerics, Raisi also told the gathered leaders that Iran wants to have "extensive relations with all our neighbors” — an apparent reference to foe Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries in the region.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have held a number of direct talks since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, though tensions remain high between the two. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates recent reopened its embassy in Tehran and sent an ambassador there.
Jonathan Lis and Ben Samuels contributed to this report.