As expected when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, newly sworn-in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has picked up right where Netanyahu left off in warning the world against restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Bennett in Sunday remarks for the first time commented on Iran's presidential election. In particular he seized on the Islamic hardliner credentials of the winner of Friday's election, Ebrahim Raisi, saying that world powers negotiating in Vienna must "wake up".
"Raisi's election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement, and understand who they are doing business with," Bennett said.
"A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass-destruction," he added. "Israel's position will not change on this."
Bennet was referencing Raisi's current position as head of Iran's judiciary since 2019, and his reputation as a ultraconservative cleric and judge. He'll take office when Hassan Rouhani's term ends August 3rd.
Considered a protege of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Raisi's career goes all the way back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution - and he continued rising through the judiciary ranks into the late 1980's, as The Guardian reviews:
The youngest member of the 1988 Tehran death committee, Raisi has been accused of systematically sending as many as 3,000 people to slaughter. When he was head of the judiciary floggings and executions flourished, yet many see this election as a staging post to his becoming supreme leader when Ayatollah Khamenei dies.
Raisi was 28 at the time of the massacres – a Tehran deputy prosecutor who stood in on the death committee for Morteza Eshraghi, Tehran’s chief prosecutor.
Starting in 2019 Raisi came under Trump administration sanctions for his role in past executions and political suppression - US sanctions which have remained in place, especially given his role in overseeing executions in the Islamic Republic each year.
Along with Israeli PM Bennett, US Congressional hawks are expected to argue that Raisi's election is reason enough to cancel Vienna talks, however, the Biden administration is reportedly seeking to get a deal done prior to Raisi taking office, according to Axios.