Iran’s Raisi says Israeli ‘normalization’ agreements with Arab states will fail

The National  /  September 24, 2023

Israel moved closer to the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco following a US-driven diplomatic initiative in 2020.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a US television interview on Sunday that Washington-sponsored efforts to improve Israel’s relations with Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, “will see no success”.

In an interview with CNN, Raisi also denied Iran had said it does not want UN nuclear inspectors in the country.

Raisi has said Iran has no issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, inspecting its nuclear sites, days after Tehran barred multiple inspectors assigned to the country.

Israel has moved closer to the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco following a US-driven diplomatic initiative in 2020 which pushed for normalization of relations.

Establishing ties with Saudi Arabia – home to some of Islam’s holiest sites – would be the grand prize for Israel and could change the geopolitics of the Middle East.

Commenting on Iran’s nuclear program, Raisi also defended his country’s enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade levels, stating it was a response to European states not living up to their end of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

“In the beginning, we were not seeking 60 per cent levels of enrichment. They trampled upon their commitments,” Raisi told CNN in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week.

“What the Islamic Republic of Iran did was in response to a breaking of commitment of the signatories to the agreement.”

He rejected accusations that Iran was ramping up enrichment in preparation to build an atomic bomb.

“We have announced time and time again that the use of nuclear weapons, the use of weapons of mass destruction in general, do not have a place. Why? Because we don’t believe in it, nor do we have a need for it,” the Iranian President said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran hasn’t said we do not wish any inspectors to be here,” he added.

With reporting from Reuters