Iran president-elect says missile program is nonnegotiable

Iran’s president-elect on Monday said the country’s ballistic missile program is “nonnegotiable” and that he will not meet with President BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE.

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, when asked about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support of regional militias in his first news conference following Friday’s election, said the two initiatives are nonnegotiable, according to The Associated Press.

Raisi, when asked about a potential meeting with Biden, simply responded “No.”

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This comes after his opponent, Abdolnaser Hemmati, earlier this month said he would be open to meeting with the U.S. president.

Raisi’s victory in the election, which saw a far lower turnout compared to previous years, puts the fate of a return to the Iran nuclear deal in question.

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018, which sparked tensions in the region. Iran has since ignored the limits of the deal and is now enriching uranium at 60 percent, which is its highest levels yet but still less than weapons-grade levels, according to the AP.

Raisi on Monday said relief from sanctions is “central to our foreign policy” and called on the U.S. to “return and implement your commitments” in the deal, the AP reported.

“We support the negotiations that guarantee our national interests ... America should immediately return to the deal and fulfill its obligations under the deal,” he added, according to Reuters.

The president-elect also said “all U.S. sanctions must be lifted and verified by Tehran,” according to Reuters.

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A total of 28.9 million Iranians cast ballots in Friday’s election, according to the AP, which was a 34 percent turnout for Tehran. Raisi secured 62 percent of the vote, with 17.9 million ballots.

Raisi is set to take control from sitting President Hassan Rouhani on Aug. 3, according to the AP.

He is reportedly under U.S. sanctions for his alleged involvement in the unlawful killing of thousands of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic in 1998, Reuters reported.

When asked about the allegations, which have come from human rights groups, Raisi responded, “If a judge, a prosecutor has defended the security of the people, he should be praised,” according to Reuters.

“I am proud to have defended human rights in every position I have held so far,” he added.