Ebrahim Raisi has been sworn in as Iran’s new president, with the ultraconservative cleric calling for US sanctions against the Islamic republic to be lifted as tensions between Tehran and the West continue.

Raisi took office on Thursday after receiving the endorsement of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. After being sworn in, the new president called for an end to America’s embargoes, saying that “the Iranian people expect the new government to improve their livelihoods… All illegal US sanctions against the Iranian nation must be lifted.”

Alongside voicing demands for Washington to lift its sanctions, Raisi promised to strengthen ties with Iran’s neighbors, as well as to boost the standard of living for his compatriots, vowing that “the new government will work to improve the economy to resolve the nation’s problems”.

The ultraconservative Raisi has taken up the presidential post amid growing tension between Iran and some Western nations. Washington and London have accused Iran of being behind a number of recent attacks on vessels in the Persian Gulf region. Tehran has fervently rebuked the claims, dismissing them as “some form of psychological warfare” orchestrated against the Islamic republic by Western nations and Saudi Arabia.

Indirect talks between Iran and Washington over reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal have also been ongoing since April. Negotiations plateaued in June as Tehran required more time to allow for the transition of power from former president Hassan Rouhani to Raisi. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken slammed the lack of discourse and stated that the discussion process “cannot go on indefinitely”.

Under the landmark accord, sanctions imposed on Iran by the US would be lifted on the condition that Tehran reduced its nuclear capabilities. However, Tehran began breaching its commitments under the deal after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018 and imposed greater sanctions on Iran.

A former justice chief, Raisi has come under fire from organizations such as Amnesty International for alleged human rights abuses against dissident Iranians and protestors.

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