Iran not seeking nuclear weapons, president tells Russian Duma

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told the Russian parliament on Thursday that his country was not seeking nuclear weapons.

In a speech to the State Duma, Raisi said Iran was seriously considering reaching an agreement to limit its nuclear program, but would accept nothing less than its “rights”.

“We are not looking for nuclear weapons, and such weapons have no place in our defensive strategy,” he added.

Russia actively participated in international talks in Vienna aimed at salvaging the tattered 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

The United States pulled out of the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, while President Joe Biden wants to join the deal.

“We can bring these talks to a successful conclusion and address the key concerns of all parties. But time is running out,” Biden said, adding that “if an agreement is not reached in the coming weeks, ongoing nuclear of Iran, which will resume after our withdrawal from the agreement, it will be impossible for us to return to the JCPOA.”

The 2015 deal sought to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.

Raisi, who is in Moscow for an official visit, met Russian President Vladimir Putin the day before.

Meanwhile, Iran, Russia and China are expected to begin a three-day joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean on Friday, with the aim of boosting “common security”, according to an Iranian navy official.

Spokesman for the exercises, Admiral Mustafa Tajeddini, told state television that they would include “the participation of 11 naval units from the Iranian Armed Forces, three units from the Revolutionary Guard Navy, three units from Russia and two units from China”. “

He added that they would take place over an area of ​​17,000 square kilometers in the northern Indian Ocean.

Tajeddini says they aim to “enhance combat capabilities and readiness, strengthen military ties between the Iranian, Russian and Chinese navies, ensure common security and combat maritime terrorism.”

The three countries held similar drills in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean in late 2019, when tensions rose between Iran and its U.S.-allied Arab neighbors in the Gulf.

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