Disappointed State Dept. to continue nuclear talks with ‘Butcher of Tehran’

State Dept. vows to press on with nuclear talks, citing “meaningful progress.”

By World Israel News Staff

The U.S. State Department said it was disappointed with the outcome of Friday’s Iranian presidential election but said indirect talks on rejoining the JCPOA nuclear deal would nonetheless continue.

“Iranians were denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process,” said a State Department spokesman.

There was “meaningful progress” in indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian negotiators in Vienna, the spokesman said. “We will continue discussions along with our allies and partners on a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline judiciary chief, has been sanctioned by Washington for his involvement in the systematic mass execution of thousands of political prisoners over a five-month period in 1988, earning the moniker, “The Butcher of Tehran.”

According to Hebrew-language media reports, security officials in Jerusalem assess that Raisi’s nuclear and foreign policies will be in line with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s uncompromising views. Israel expects Raisi will support a return to the nuclear deal in exchange for sanctions relief, and that in the meantime, Iran will continue building up its stockpile of enriched uranium.

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IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi departed for Washington Sunday to discuss the Iranian threat with Biden administration officials.

Low voter turnout in Friday’s election suggested widespread public dissatisfaction, raising questions about the legitimacy of Raisi’s victory. The tightly controlled election came down to four hardline finalists, all approved by Khamenei. Only 48 percent of Iran’s eligible 59 million voters cast ballots.

Iranian media attributed the low turnout to the Covid pandemic.