Israel has condemned the election of hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi as Iranian president, saying his would be a "regime of brutal hangmen" with which world powers should not negotiate a new nuclear deal.
Mr Raisi, who is under US sanctions for human rights abuses, secured victory as expected yesterday in Iran's presidential election after a contest marked by voter apathy over economic hardships and political restrictions.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, convening his first televised cabinet session since taking office last week, described Mr Raisi's ascent as enabled by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than by a free and popular vote.
"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," said Mr Bennett in a statement he read out first in Hebrew and then in English.
"A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass-destruction," he said. "Israel's position will not change on this."
Mr Raisi has never publicly addressed allegations around his role in what Washington and rights groups have called the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in1988.
Mr Raisi will take over from moderate President Hassan Rouhani as Iran seeks to salvage its tattered nuclear deal with major powers and free itself from punishing US sanctions that have driven a deep economic crisis.
Mr Rouhani's landmark achievement during his eight years in office was the 2015 deal with world powers under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.
That deal has been hanging by a thread since then US president Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and launched a "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran.
Yesterday, Israel's foreign minister Yair Lapid said Mr Raisi is an "extremist responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians".
Iran's new president, known as the Butcher of Tehran, is an extremist responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians. He is committed to the regime’s nuclear ambitions and to its campaign of global terror. https://t.co/tb2xg5plwD— ???? ???? - Yair Lapid?? (@yairlapid) June 19, 2021
Mr Raisi offered no detailed political or economic programme during his election campaign, but has backed the revival of the nuclear pact, a development that would bring an easing of US sanctions.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the president, has the last say on all state matters like foreign and nuclear policies.