June 23, 2024

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday said the U.S. must “demonstrate in a verifiable fashion” that it intends to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, adding that the country has a right to nuclear energy.

The U.S. pulled out of the deal in 2018, at the direction of former President Trump, claiming Iran was not holding up its end. The deal lifted sanctions on the country in exchange for assurances against nuclear weapons proliferation.

Raisi, during his address before the United Nations General Assembly, said scuttling the deal was an “inappropriate response” to Iran being found out of compliance with treaty requirements.

Iran has denied intending to develop nuclear weapons, instead claiming that nuclear development is merely for energy. Raisi told the U.N. that “nuclear weapons have no place in the defensive doctrine and the military doctrine.”

Many of the concerns over the deal come from the lack of inspector access to Iranian nuclear sites. United Nations nuclear chief Rafael Grossi told The Associated Press on Monday that Iran had removed a significant number of cameras and other monitoring systems from its nuclear facilities.

Grossi estimated that Iran has enough nuclear material for “several” bombs.

The Biden administration was in negotiations with Iran to restart the agreement last year, but those talks fell through. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in July that the U.S. is “not talking about” starting the deal again.

“An agreement was on the table. Iran either couldn’t or wouldn’t say yes,” Blinken said. “We’re not about to take any deal. Of course, it has to meet our security objectives. It has to meet our interests.”

“So, we made a very good faith effort to get back into compliance with them,” he continued. “They couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. We’re now in a place where we’re not talking about a nuclear agreement.”

The U.S. and Iran completed a prisoner swap on Tuesday, exchanging five prisoners from each side along with returning about $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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