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Iran demands US show goodwill after quitting nuclear deal

78th UNGA General Debate at UN HQ in New York

By Parisa Hafezi

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday that the United States should prove its "goodwill and determination" to revive Tehran's 2015 nuclear pact as months of indirect talks between the long-time foes have led nowhere.

"By exiting the JCPOA, the United States violated the agreement and the principle of good faith. America should demonstrate its goodwill and determination," Raisi said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Tehran and six world powers.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump reneged on that deal in 2018, arguing it was too generous to Tehran, and restored harsh U.S. sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to gradually violate the agreement's nuclear limits.

After taking office in January 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden tried to negotiate a revival of the nuclear pact under which Iran had restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.

But months of nuclear talks have stalled since last September, with both sides accusing each other of demanding excessive concessions.

"America must build trust to demonstrate its good intentions and genuine willingness to fulfil its commitments and conclude the path," Raisi said.

U.S. and European officials have been searching for ways to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities since the breakdown of indirect American-Iranian talks a year ago.

To cool tensions, Tehran and Washington reached a Qatar-mediated deal last month, which resulted in swapping five detainees each on Monday and involved releasing $6 billion of Tehran's funds in South Korea.

Further straining already difficult ties, the United States and its Western allies have imposed sanctions on Iran over its handling of months of protests sparked by the death in custody of young Iranian Kurdish women Mahsa Amini.

Immediately after Iran's Raisi began to deliver his speech, Israel's envoy to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, marched out of the General Assembly hall while waving Amini's picture.

"I left the speech to make it clear that the State of Israel stands by the Iranian people," said Erdan, according to a statement sent to Reuters by Israel's mission to the United Nations.

Iran and Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognise, have been locked in a shadow war for decades, with mutual allegations of sabotage and assassination plots.

(Reporting By Parisa Hafezi at the United Nations; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Howard Goller and Grant McCool)