Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a photo of General Qasem Soleimani during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020.—AFP
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a photo of General Qasem Soleimani during his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020.—AFP

UNITED NATIONS: Iran’s president told the United Nations on Wednesday that his country was not seeking an atomic weapon and demanded US guarantee it would abide by any revived nuclear deal.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is not seeking to build or obtain nuclear weapons and such weapons have no place in our doctrine,” President Ebrahim Raisi told the UN General Assembly.

Raisi addressed the world body just hours before US President Joe Biden was set to take the stage, amid a surge of tension over an Iran nuclear deal that remains blocked despite months of negotiations, and mounting pressure over the country’s human rights record.

“All of this is taking place in an environment where countries themselves that seek to show us unjustly as a threat keep pursuing nuclear weapons and development and testing,” Raisi said, claiming there is a “double standard” when it comes to discussion of Iran’s nuclear science capacity as well as women’s rights.

Demands US guarantee it will abide by any revived N-accord

He denounced the lack of pressure on Israel, an undeclared nuclear power, saying that Iran has complied with international commitments.

“We all know that it’s only for human and peaceful endeavors,” Raisi said of his country’s nuclear programme. “But some countries are keen on portraying this as a threat, in order to sweep under the rug what they should rightly face themselves, which should be denuclearisation”.

The West has been calling on Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear accord — four years after Biden’s White House predecessor Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and re-imposed major sanctions on Iran.

Raisi voiced doubt about the Biden administration’s sincerity. “They keep repeating the same stories of the past which puts a great deal of doubt on their true commitment to return to the agreement,” he said.

“Can we truly trust — without guarantees and assurances — that they will decide to live up to that commitment?”

French President Emmanuel Macron met Raisi in New York on Tuesday, saying afterward that “the ball is in Iran’s court”. Earlier on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that Tehran should “abandon their nuclear weapons aspirations” and engage more actively with the international community.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2022

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