Is the Iran deal dead? Raisi's speech outlines Iran's stances

Raisi warned that his country can manage without an agreement: “We have managed to neutralize the [American] sanctions in many cases."

 Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds ups photograph of General Qassem Soleimani during his speech at the 77th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, September 21, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/CAITLIN OCHS)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds ups photograph of General Qassem Soleimani during his speech at the 77th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, September 21, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CAITLIN OCHS)

Iran will not return to the 2015 nuclear deal if the US does not provide guarantees that it will remain in the new agreement, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made clear in his address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

“The issue of guarantees is not just about something that may happen. We are basing it on lived experience…Can we really trust [the US] without guarantees and assurances that it will live up to the agreement this time?”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

Raisi warned that his country can manage without an agreement: “We have managed to neutralize the [American] sanctions in many cases. The maximum pressure policy suffered an embarrassing defeat. We found our path, independent of any agreement, and will continue steadfastly.”

At the same time, Raisi said his country is “very serious in the negotiations... [and] has a great, serious will to solve all issues,” as long as “the rights of the people of Iran are respected.”

That would mean more guarantees and assurances from the US that it will not leave a renewed nuclear deal, the president said.

 HEN-US president Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, in 2018 (credit: REUTERS) HEN-US president Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, in 2018 (credit: REUTERS)

“The issue of guarantees is not just about something that may happen. We are basing it on lived experience... Can we really trust [the US] without guarantees and assurances that it will live up to the agreement this time?”

Trump and the 2018 Iran deal

The US under former president Donald Trump left the Iran deal in 2018, pointing out that it was reached under false pretenses because Iran hid its nuclear weapons program from the early 2000s, and that Iran was using sanctions relief money to fund terrorism and proxy warfare throughout the region.

Iran and the US have been negotiating indirectly since April 2021 to return to the deal. After what many involved thought would be the final stages of the talks, they were put on hold because of additional demands by Iran for guarantees. Some of those demands cannot legally be met by the US – President Joe Biden cannot bind a future president to his foreign policy unless the agreement is ratified by Congress, which it was never intended to be.

Raisi claimed that Iran’s nuclear program is “for only human and peaceful endeavors,” and that those who seek to portray it as a threat are trying to hide their own nuclear capabilities.

“Iran is not seeking to obtain nuclear weapons,” he said, pointing to a fatwa against them by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Such weapons have no place in our doctrine.”

Raisi talks about Israel

Raisi accused countries of “pursuing nuclear weapons and [making] a gift of those weapons to the Zionist government.”

As for Israel, Raisi said “the killing of women and children is on the report card of the Zionist regime. It has built the biggest prison in the world in Gaza. The illegal building of settlements on Palestinian territory... shows everyone seven decades of Israeli occupation and savagery is still with us and not ending.”

Raisi wondered why world powers “keep running away and evading solutions proposed by Iran to solve the Palestinian crisis.” Iran’s supreme leader has called for the total elimination of Israel.

The Iranian president repeatedly referred to the Palestinians in his speech. He called Iran a “great civilization... [that] always fought to destroy enslavement, from the Babylonians all the way to Palestinians.”

Days after Iranian police killed 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for not covering her hair, sparking an international uproar, Raisi claimed that there is a “double standard” when it comes to human rights, and that Canada killed “dozens of innocent women,” citing mass graves of indigenous people, and the situation of Palestinians.

While Iran sponsors terrorist proxies like Hezbollah, the Houthis, Islamic Jihad and others throughout the Middle East, Raisi said that “a country that wishes to have justice internally but then outside its borders trains various terrorist groups on various nations must be ashamed.”

Raisi also criticized the US at length for its “hegemony.”

“What does the Islamic Republic seek other than its own rights, which caused havoc and chaos among the oppressors of the world,” he said. “America cannot accept that certain countries have the right to stand on their own two feet, and they keep equating militarism and security.”

The Iranian president also mourned former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani as a “freedom-seeking man who became a martyr,” and called for Trump, who ordered his killing in 2020, to be put on trial.