Wednesday 9/29/21
WORLD

Raisi takes office as Iran's president as regional tensions run high

As public prosecutor, Raisi is said to have been responsible for multiple executions of political dissidents
HANDOUT - Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali khamenei (L) , gives his official seal of approval to newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi during the latter's inauguration ceremony at the office of the supreme leader. Photo: -/Iranian Supreme Leader's Office/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali khamenei (L) , gives his official seal of approval to newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi during the latter's inauguration ceremony. Photo: Iranian Supreme Leader's Office/dpa.

Ebrahim Raisi officially took office as Iran's new president on Thursday, according to Iranian media, in a move that places all three branches of the government - the executive, legislative and judiciary - in the hands of conservative hardliners.

Raisi is a largely unknown entity politically, having served in the Islamic Republic's judiciary for over three decades before being appointed Iran's chief justice in 2019.

However, as public prosecutor Raisi is said to have been responsible for multiple executions of political dissidents, and in recent years, he has sharply criticized outgoing president Hassan Rowhani's moderate political stance, including his work brokering the Iran nuclear deal.

"I want a new Iran, that of the 21st century, and national reconciliation," he said after being sworn in. His aim was to institutionalize an Islamic democracy under the cooperation of all experts regardless of political or ideological tendencies, he said.

The chief unknown for Iran watchers is whether the switch to the more conservative Raisi will have a significant impact on attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which aimed to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting economic sanctions on the country.

In his speech, Raisi emphasized that Iran was not looking to build a nuclear bomb. "Our nuclear programme is peaceful and the construction of nuclear bombs is forbidden in our country for religious reasons and is not part of our political and military doctrine," he said.

The new president said that Iran would pursue a line of rational diplomacy to end the nuclear dispute, but in accord with national interests and without adhering to any foreign pressure. "In advance, however, the US sanctions must be lifted ... and they will be," he added.

Tensions in the region

Raisi becomes president at a time of heightened tensions in the region.

Earlier on Thursday, the leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned the world that Iran was ready "for any military scenario."

General Hossein Salami warned Israel and the West not to attempt to intimidate Iran. "Those who threaten us should be aware of the dangerous consequences of their rhetoric and better watch what they say," Salami said on Thursday.

The general's comments follow a drone attack on the British-operated MT Mercer Street oil tanker in the Gulf a week ago. The attack, which left two crew members dead, has been blamed on Iran by the US, British and Israeli governments.

Iran denies any involvement in the attack and has dubbed the finger-pointing a political provocation. The Foreign Ministry in Tehran warned that if such "adventurism" were to endanger the country's security, it would react appropriately.

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