Iran says Israel failed to prevent its nuclear program

By Anadolu Agency

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said Monday the country’s nuclear program has become indigenous and arch-foe Israel has been unable to prevent its progress through sabotage, assassinations, and threats.

Raisi was addressing a news conference in Tehran, attended by local and foreign media, and coinciding with the first anniversary of his government that took over in August last year.

Referring to the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, the Iranian president said it was unsuccessfully aimed at impeding Iran’s nuclear progress.

He said nuclear activities and nuclear technology are Iran’s “right” while stressing that nuclear weapons have no place in the country’s “defense doctrine”, invoking the decree of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Raisi stressed that “nobody could deprive” his country of what he termed its “inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology.”

The remarks come as Tehran and Washington have entered the last stretch to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, with both sides currently exchanging comments on a draft proposal tabled by the EU.

Iran is expected to submit its response to US comments on the EU draft by Friday, which could pave the way for the revival of the deal after marathon negotiations in Vienna.

On a question of whether he would be willing to meet or shake hands with US President Joe Biden during the upcoming UN General Assembly summit in New York, Raisi answered “no”, calling the meeting or talks with his American counterpart “useless”.

Raisi said Iran seeks the removal and nullification of US sanctions, describing them as “illegal and brutal,” adding that sanctions will not stop Iran’s exports to other countries.

On what Tehran is seeking from the talks in Vienna, he said sanctions removal must be guaranteed and safeguard issues related to the UN nuclear watchdog must be resolved.

He also spoke about his government’s “neighbors-first” policy, reiterating that Tehran seeks “good-neighborly” ties with countries in the region, adding that the “presence of outsiders” foments insecurity.

Raisi also reiterated the importance of Iran’s presence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its relations with China, expressing commitment to broaden that cooperation in various fields.

On relations with Russia, he said the two countries have exchanged documents and have started joint work in the development of energy fields, adding that his government is committed to implementing the long-term cooperation pact with Moscow in line with the agreement reached with China.

On the ongoing tension-easing talks with Saudi Arabia mediated by Iraq, which have been put on hold due to a political crisis in Baghdad, Raisi said the negotiations depend on the other side fulfilling its obligations.

He also denounced Israel’s violations in Palestine and said the oppression “won’t last” and that the Palestinians will get justice in the end, “even if it takes time.”