US sanctions ‘crimes against humanity’, Iran’s new leader says


The new ultra-conservative president of Iran said that US sanctions are “crimes against humanity” and hailed what he called the end of Washington’s hegemony, in a pre-recorded address to the UN general assembly from Tehran.

“Sanctions are the US new way of war with the nations of the world,” President Ebrahim Raisi said, using most of his time to denounce the US government.

Raisi, who is himself under US sanctions over alleged human rights abuses, said sanctions “were crimes against humanity during the coronavirus pandemic”.

He also said that the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the January 06 attack on the Capitol proved that “the US hegemonic system” had no credibility inside or outside the country.

“Today, the world doesn’t care about ‘America First’ or ‘America is Back’,” he said, referring to the slogans used by Donald Trump and his successor, Joe Biden.

Raisi expressed support for renewed nuclear negotiations but said all parties must stay true to the 2015 nuclear deal, adding that he had no faith in American promises.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iran’s foreign ministry said it would return to the talks in Vienna on reviving the deal within the next few weeks, although western powers remain suspicious of Tehran’s delaying tactics and a lack of specifics.

“Every meeting requires prior coordination and the preparation of an agenda,” the Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the state news agency, Irna. “As previously emphasised, the Vienna talks will resume soon and over the next few weeks.”

Iran suspended the talks in June at the time of Raisi’s election, to give the new administration time to prepare a bargaining agenda and negotiating team. But after six intensive rounds, few expected Iran to take so long to return to Vienna or assemble its new negotiating team.

Intensive efforts by European powers on the sidelines of the UN general assembly this week to persuade Iran to hold a joint meeting with the other signatories in New York to the nuclear deal were rejected by Iran.

The US has offered to lift most economic sanctions on Iran that are linked to the country’s non-compliance with the nuclear deal, referred to as JCPoA, but not those linked to human rights abuses. Iran has said it will come back into compliance with the deal, but only after it is clear that the lifting of sanctions has had a practical impact on the ability of Iran to trade.

Iran is also looking for new guarantees about what would happen if the US was to walk out of the deal again, as it did under Donald Trump in 2018. It wants guarantees that the US would, if in breach of UN security council resolutions, pay compensation.

In a brief reference to Iran, Joe Biden in his speech to the UN general assembly vowed that Washington was seeking “a return to the JCPoA”.

He added: “We are prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same.” (Source: The Guardian)