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Iran swears in new hard-line president amid regional pressure

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The protégé of Iran’s supreme chief, Ebrahim Raisi, was sworn in because the nation’s new president throughout a ceremony in parliament on Thursday, an inauguration that completes hard-liners’ dominance of all branches of presidency within the Islamic Republic.

The previous judiciary chief recognized for his mistrust of the West takes the reins at a tense time. Iran’s oblique talks with the U.S. to salvage Tehran’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal have stalled, as Washington maintains crippling sanctions on the nation and regional hostilities simmer.

“The sanctions have to be lifted,” Raisi mentioned throughout his half-hour inauguration speech. “We are going to assist any diplomatic plan that helps this purpose.”

Sporting the normal black turban that identifies him within the Shiite custom as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, Raisi recited the oath of workplace along with his proper hand on the Quran.

In his tackle, Raisi careworn his embrace of diplomacy to raise U.S. sanctions and mend rifts with neighbors, a delicate reference to Sunni rival Saudi Arabia. However he additionally signaled that Iran seeks to develop its energy as a counterbalance to foes throughout the area.

“Wherever there may be oppression and crime on this planet, within the coronary heart of Europe, within the U.S., Africa, Yemen, Syria, Palestine … we’ll stand by the folks,” he mentioned, referring to Iran-backed militias like Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. His voice rose with emotion, eliciting a clamor of approval from the viewers. “The message of the election was resistance in opposition to smug powers.”

Raisi, who received a landslide victory in an election that noticed the lowest voter turnout within the nation’s historical past, faces a mountain of issues — what he described on Thursday as “the very best degree of hostilities by Iran’s enemies, unjust financial sanctions, widespread psychological warfare and the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Amid ongoing sanctions, Iran is grappling with runaway inflation, diminishing revenues, rolling blackouts and water shortages which have sparked scattered protests. Barred from promoting its oil overseas, Iran has seen its financial system crumble and its forex crash, hitting peculiar residents hardest.

With out providing any particular insurance policies, Raisi pledged to resolve the nation’s mounting financial disaster, enhance the spiraling forex and “empower poor folks.”

Former President Donald Trump’s resolution to withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal in 2018 has led Tehran to desert over time each limitation the accord imposed on its nuclear enrichment. The nation now enriches a small quantity of uranium as much as 63%, a brief step from weapons-grade ranges, in comparison with 3.67% beneath the deal. It additionally spins far-more superior centrifuges and extra of them than allowed beneath the accord, worrying nuclear nonproliferation consultants, although Tehran insists its program is peaceable.

Raisi, 60, a conservative cleric lengthy cultivated by Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has promised to interact with the U.S. However he additionally has struck a hard-line stance, ruling out negotiations aimed toward limiting Iranian missile improvement and assist for regional militias — one thing the Biden administration needs to handle.

The official proceedings in Tehran come only a week after a drone crashed into an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members.

The U.S., Israel and the UK blamed Iran for the raid and vowed a collective response, with Israel’s protection minister on Thursday even warning the nation is able to strike Iran. Though Tehran denied involvement, the assault escalates a yearslong shadow conflict focusing on industrial delivery within the Mideast and threatens to complicate efforts to revive the nuclear deal.

Thursday’s inauguration ceremony, scaled again due to the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the nation, nonetheless drew leaders and dignitaries from around the globe. The presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan flew in for the event, together with Enrique Mora, the European Union official who has coordinated the current nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Senior officers from Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Venezuela and South Korea additionally attended.

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Related Press author Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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