Middle East/North Africa

New Israeli prime minister calls on world to ‘wake up’ on Iran nuclear deal

Newly sworn-in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday warned world powers against negotiating a nuclear agreement with Iran after the election of a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, saying they should “wake up” before pursuing a deal.

During his first televised cabinet meeting, Bennett said Raisi would bring about a “regime of brutal hangmen,” Reuters reported. Raisi is under U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses, and Bennett claimed Raisi’s electoral victory was the result of influence from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, instead of a popular vote.

Reuters noted that fewer than half of eligible voters in Iran voted in the election.

“Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement and understand who they are doing business with,” Bennett said.

“A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction,” he added. “Israel’s position will not change on this.”

U.S. sanctions against Raisi were issued shortly after he was appointed to be judiciary chief in 2019 for allegedly playing a role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 as well as the suppression of unrest in 2009, CNBC noted. Neither Iran nor Raisi has ever publicly acknowledged the executions.

Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, had also urged world powers against pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran, saying he was willing to risk inducing tension with the U.S. in order to block what he called an “existential threat” to Israel.

Dozens of Democrats around the country offered President Biden “strong support” last month for rejoining the Iran nuclear deal.

In a letter to Biden, 53 state Democratic Party leaders and Democratic National Committee members applauded the administration for entering into indirect talks with Iran to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urged him to lift “bad-faith sanctions” imposed by former President Trump, who withdrew from the deal in 2018.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump Ebrahim Raisi Iran Iran nuclear agreement Joe Biden Naftali Bennett

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