He says he will seek to ‘lift oppressive sanctions, but won’t tie Iran’s well-being to the will of foreigners’.
Ebrahim Raisi was on Tuesday inaugurated as President of Iran, a country whose hopes of shaking off a dire economic crisis hinge on reviving a nuclear deal with world powers.
“Following the people’s choice, I task the wise, indefatigable, experienced and popular Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Raisi as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote in a decree read out by his chief of staff.
Mr. Raisi, a conservative, replaces moderate President Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement was the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers.
From the outset, Mr. Raisi will have to tackle negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear deal from which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew imposing sweeping sanctions.
The 60-year-old also faces the United States, Britain and Israel’s warnings to Iran over a deadly tanker attack last week for which Tehran denies responsibility.
Mr. Raisi, in his inauguration speech, said the new government would seek to lift “oppressive” U.S. sanctions, but would “not tie the nation’s standard of living to the will of foreigners”.
“We believe the people’s economic position is unfavourable both because of the hostility of our enemies and because of the shortcomings and problems inside the country,” he said.
In his response, Mr. Khamenei acknowledged Iran suffered from “many shortcomings and problems”, but quickly added: “The country’s capabilities are even more numerous. Fixing economic problems takes time and cannot be done overnight.”
Mr. Raisi won a presidential election in June in which more than half the electorate stayed away after many heavyweights were barred from standing. A former judiciary chief, he has been criticised by the West for his human rights record.
Tuesday’s ceremony marked Mr. Raisi’s formal accession to office. He will next be sworn in before Parliament on Thursday when he is to submit his proposed government line-up.
Mr. Raisi’s presidency will consolidate power in the hands of conservatives following their 2020 parliamentary election victory, marked by the disqualification of thousands of reformist or moderate candidates.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear capabilities in return for an easing of sanctions.
But then U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord three years later and ramped up sanctions again, prompting Tehran to pull back from most of its nuclear commitments.
Mr. Trump’s successor Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to return to the deal and engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran alongside formal talks with the accord’s remaining parties — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. The U.S. sanctions have choked Iran and its vital oil exports.