The EU confirmed Tuesday the participation of a senior official in the inauguration of the ultraconservative Ebrahim RaisiÂ as Iranian president, a move that has created new tensions with Israel.Â
Enrique Mora, deputyÂ secretary-general of the European External Action Service, the blocâ€™s diplomatic body, â€œwill attend the inauguration on behalf of [EU top diplomat Josep Borrell],â€ said EEAS spokeswomanÂ Nabila Massrali. â€œIt is crucial to engage diplomatically with the new administration and to pass directly important messages.â€
Borrell is the coordinator of the Iran nuclear deal,Â formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which curbed Tehranâ€™s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.Â However, the deal has been on life support since former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out in 2018.
As coordinator of the deal, Borrellâ€™s â€œkey priority is to resume negotiations â€¦ and to facilitate the way back to full JCPOA implementation,â€ Massrali said. Mora isÂ the EUÂ official overseeing the negotiations on a day-to-day basis.
Raisi, a hardliner judge whose role in the execution of political prisoners earned him the nickname the â€œButcher of Tehran,â€Â replaces moderate Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement was the 2015 nuclear agreement. Raisi was endorsed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday and will be sworn in before parliament in an inauguration ceremony on Thursday, which Mora and other international officials will attend.
The EU move comes just days afterÂ Israel, as well as the U.K and the U.S., blamed Iran for a suspected drone attack on a tanker in the Arabian Sea that killed two crew members.Â
Israel strongly criticized sending Mora to Tehran for the ceremony.
â€œThe decision of the European Union to send a senior representative to the swearing-in ceremony of theÂ â€˜Butcher of Tehranâ€™Â is puzzling and shows poor judgment,â€Â Lior Haiat, spokesperson ofÂ theÂ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wroteÂ on Twitter on Monday when news of the EU participation emerged.
The â€œEU participation gives legitimacy to the Iranian attack and the policy of aggressionâ€ of the Iranian government, he added. â€œWe strongly recommend the EU to immediately cancel their shameful participation in the inauguration ceremony of the butcher of Tehran.â€