Iran’s President Raisi doubts success of U.S.-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli relations normalization

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi expressed skepticism about the potential success of U.S.-backed efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. In an interview with CNN, Raisi emphasized that Iran had not rejected the presence of nuclear inspectors from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog in the country. While Iran has recently restricted access to some inspectors, Raisi clarified that his nation had no issue with the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s inspection of its nuclear sites.

Raisi’s remarks come amid the backdrop of Israel’s closer ties with several Gulf nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, as part of a U.S.-led diplomatic initiative in 2020 aimed at fostering normalization of relations. The prospect of establishing diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, a nation housing some of Islam’s holiest sites, remains a significant objective for Israel and could potentially reshape the Middle East’s geopolitical landscape.

Addressing Iran’s nuclear program, President Raisi reaffirmed Iran’s stance against the use of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, citing a belief that such weapons have no place in Iran’s policies. He clarified that Iran had not categorically rejected the presence of inspectors from the international community.