UNITED NATIONS: Iran's new ultraconservative president on Tuesday voiced support for renewed nuclear negotiations in his international debut even as he hailed what he termed the decline of US hegemony.
President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric who succeeded a government that sought better relations with the West, called on the United States to fulfill its promises to end sanctions under the 2015 nuclear accord.
"The Islamic Republic considers useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive sanctions," Raisi said in a recorded speech to the UN General Assembly.
He repeated the clerical state's stance that nuclear weapons are religiously prohibited, a position that has been met with skepticism notably by Israel, which has carried out a sabotage campaign to delay Iran's nuclear work. Nuclear weapons "have no place in our defense doctrine and deterrence policy," Raisi said.
President Joe Biden, appearing in person in his own maiden UN speech, earlier said that the United States was ready to return to the nuclear accord from which his predecessor Donald Trump bolted.
"We're prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same," Biden said, referring to US promises under the accord to lift sanctions.
But months of indirect negotiations brokered by the European Union since Biden's election have failed to revive the accord fully.
Iran has taken steps away from the accord to protest the sanctions and insists on a full lifting of economic pressure -- while the Biden administration says it is only looking at sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme, not those that were based on other concerns including human rights.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh, traveling with Raisi, said that he expected a resumption of the indirect talks in Vienna which include the nations still in the agreement -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
"The Vienna talks will resume soon, in the coming weeks," he said, as quoted by the official IRNA news agency.
Raisi devoted most of his speech to denunciations of the United States, pointing to the collapse of the Western-backed government in Afghanistan as well as the mob attack of the US Capitol on January 6 by Trump supporters seeking to overturn his defeat.