Iran ready for 'goal-oriented' nuclear talks to end US sanctions, says Raisi
Iran's new government is prepared to hold talks with world powers to revive its 2015 nuclear accord but it is not seeking to do so under Western "pressure", President Ebrahim Raisi has said.
Raisi, in a live interview with state television on Saturday, said Tehran expects negotiations to come along with the lifting of US sanctions.
"The Westerners and the Americans are after talks together with pressure ... I have already announced that we will have talks on our government's agenda but not with ... pressure," said ultraconservative Raisi, who assumed office last month.
"Talks are on the agenda ... We are seeking goal-oriented negotiations ... so sanctions on the Iranian people are lifted," he continued.
France and Germany have urged Iran to return to negotiations given the break in talks following Iranian elections in June, with Paris earlier this week demanding an immediate restart amid Western concerns over Tehran's expanding nuclear programme. At the time, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that stalled talks might not resume for another two to three months.
Ongoing US sanctions
Raisi's most recent remarks come just after Washington issued new sanctions against four Iranian intelligence operatives who it said had targeted a prominent Iranian-American journalist and activist living in the United States.
'Washington must understand that it has no choice but to abandon its addiction to sanctions and respect Iran'
-Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran foreign ministry spokesman
The US Treasury Department accused the four individuals of targeting "Iranian dissidents in other countries as part of a wide-ranging campaign to silence critics of the Iranian government".
US prosecutors in July charged the four with plotting to kidnap Masih Alinejad, a New York-based journalist who was critical of Tehran. Iran at the time called the alleged plot “ridiculous and baseless".
Earlier on Saturday, Iran's foreign ministry slammed the US for doubling down on its accusation with Friday's sanctions.
"Supporters and merchants of sanctions, who see their sanctions tool box empty due to Iran’s maximum resistance, are now resorting to Hollywood scenarios to keep the sanctions alive,” the Foreign Ministry said in a tweet in Farsi, quoting spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.
Khatibzadeh's remarks invoked the "maximum pressure" campaign launched against Iran by the Trump administration in 2018, which saw the US reinstate a series of crippling sanctions following its withdrawal from the Obama-era nuclear deal.
"Washington must understand that it has no choice but to abandon its addiction to sanctions and respect Iran," Khatibzadeh said.