Iran’s president slams US for imposing new sanctions, says they undermine talks

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday criticized the United States for imposing new sanctions on petrochemical producers in the Islamic Republic, amid a deadlock in talks aimed at reviving a nuclear deal.

The US on Thursday sanctioned a network of Iranian petrochemical firms and alleged front companies in China and the United Arab Emirates, accusing them of helping Tehran circumvent sanctions.

“I am surprised (by the behavior) of the Americans,” Raisi said, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

“On the one hand, they send a message in favor of negotiations and agreement, and on the other hand, they lengthen the list of sanctions.

“I don’t understand how this works,” the Iranian president said.

Iran disconnected some International Atomic Energy Agency cameras monitoring its nuclear sites this month, shortly after the US and its European allies pushed through a resolution at the IAEA denouncing Iran’s lack of cooperation.

“The world must give us the right not to trust the United States because they are violating their agreements,” Raisi said.

US President Joe Biden speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in the Oval Office of the White House, June 16, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The 2015 deal gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for guarantees that it could not develop a nuclear weapon — something Tehran has always denied wanting to do.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump, before imposing waves of biting sanctions on the Islamic republic.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said he still believed the nuclear negotiations could succeed and that diplomacy was one of the best ways to revive the accord.

Also, Friday, the United Arab Emirates urged Iran to provide reassurances on the peaceful nature of its nuclear program after the IAEA denounced Tehran’s lack of cooperation.

“There are concerns,” said the permanent representative of the UAE to the IAEA, Hamad Al Kaabi.

In response to an AFP question during a press conference on the Emirates’ own nuclear program, he called on Iran to “closely cooperate with the IAEA” and “provide reassurances to regional and international countries regarding the peacefulness of its nuclear program”.

The UAE has the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world.

It lies just across the Gulf from Iran which has a nuclear power plant of its own outside the coastal city of Bushehr, as well as a controversial uranium enrichment program.

US President Joe Biden has said he is ready to again embrace the deal so long as Iran also respects its own pledges under it.

In this undated photograph published by the United Arab Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency, employees work at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the UAE’s far western desert. (WAM via AP)

Washington’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April said the “breakout time” for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb, if it so chooses, is “down to a matter of weeks” after the deal had pushed it beyond a year.

The UAE has repeatedly said its nuclear ambitions are for “peaceful purposes” and has ruled out developing any enrichment program or nuclear reprocessing technologies.

It has also moved to dispel any concerns over safety, underlining that the plant has welcomed more than 40 international reviews and inspection missions.

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