Iranian president dismisses criticism amid deadly protests

As street protests in Iran grew increasingly deadly, President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday accused the West of maintaining a double standard on human rights.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, Raisi tried to deflect international outrage over the death last week of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police. They reportedly arrested her for not completely covering her hair.

Raisi also used the speech to insist that Iran was eager to revive the moribund nuclear deal aimed at preventing the country from developing a bomb, but questioned whether the United States could be a trusted partner. in any agreement.

It was a rare appearance in the West by Raisi, a hardliner who became president of Iran about a year ago.

“Human rights belong to everyone, but unfortunately they are violated by many governments,” Raisi said. I cited the suffering of stateless Palestinians and the detention of migrant children in the United States, separating them from their families.

The Iranian government has maintained that Mahsa Amini, an Iranian Kurd, died of a heart attack after being detained and sent to a “re-education center” to receive instructions on proper dress. Iran requires all women to wear headscarves that cover their hair and other clothing considered modest.

Amini’s family insists she was healthy and had no heart problems. The government ordered an investigation.

Her death sparked protests in many Iranian cities, some involving women burning their headscarves. On Wednesday, seven people were reportedly killed during protests as security forces attempted to suppress protesters.

“Iranian security forces will continue to feel emboldened to kill or injure protesters and prisoners, including women arrested for defying abusive compulsory veil laws, if they are not held accountable,” said Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East at Amnesty International, in a statement. . She also demanded an independent investigation and criticized Raisi for having had a world stage amid what she called Iran’s abuses.

In other comments, Raisi said his government had a “great and serious will” to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, a historic international accord brokered by the Obama administration and six other countries. It drastically reduced Iran’s atomic energy program and was designed to prevent the country from developing a bomb.

But President Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018, saying he didn’t go far enough in restricting Iran. Tehran has resumed enrichment of uranium, a key component of nuclear weapons. With the election of Joe Biden, the United States entered into indirect negotiations with Iran through the European signatories of the agreement with the aim of reviving it.

These talks have repeatedly been blocked by demands from both sides. Iran is seeking to free itself from the economic sanctions that the United States has imposed and which have crippled its economy.

“We have before us the experience of America’s withdrawal” from the deal, Raisi said. “With this experience and perspective, can we ignore the important issue of safeguards for a lasting deal?”

“We only want one thing: respect for commitments,” said Raisi.

Biden, who also addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, said the United States also wanted to rejoin the deal. But he said Iran must meet its obligations, including allowing the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct thorough inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Although also part of the 2015 deal, Tehran has recently tried to keep inspectors away from some of its facilities.

“The United States is clear: we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” said Biden, who also offered his support to protesters in Iran who he said seek “to guarantee their basic rights. “.