Iran's president-elect said Monday he wouldn't meet with President Biden or negotiate over Tehran's ballistic missile program and its support of regional militias, sticking to a hard-line position following his landslide victory in last week's election, per the AP. On meeting Biden, judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi simply answered: "No." His moderate competitor in the election, Abdolnaser Hemmati, had suggested during campaigning that he'd be potentially willing to meet Biden. "The US is obliged to lift all oppressive sanctions against Iran," Raisi said at the news conference. The White House didn't immediately respond to Raisi's statements Monday. Also:
- Raisi described himself as a "defender of human rights" when asked about his involvement in the 1988 mass execution of some 5,000 people. It marked the first time he's been put on the spot on live television over that dark moment in Iranian history at the end of the Iran-Iraq War. Raisi, a protege of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the executions.
- Asked about Iran's ballistic missile program and its support of regional militias, Raisi described the issues as "non-negotiable."
- His victory in the balloting Friday came amid the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic's history. Millions of Iranians stayed home in defiance of a vote they saw as tipped in Raisi's favor. Of those who did vote, 3.7 million people either accidentally or intentionally voided their ballots, suggesting some wanted none of the four candidates. In official results, Raisi won 17.9 million votes overall, nearly 62% of the total 28.9 million cast.
- Raisi's election puts hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at 60%, its highest levels ever, though still short of weapons-grade levels. Representatives of the world powers party to the deal returned to their capitals for consultations following the latest round of negotiations on Sunday.
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