Khamenei gives strong backing for nuclear negotiations
Iran will resume negotiations with six world powers in Geneva on Thursday
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “No one should consider our negotiators as compromisers.”
Iran’s supreme leader gave strong backing yesterday to his president’s push for nuclear negotiations, warning hardliners not to accuse Hassan Rouhani of compromising with the old enemy the US.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments will help shield Rouhani, who has sought to thaw relations with the West since his surprise election in June, from accusations of being soft on the US, often characterised in the Islamic Republic as the “Great Satan”.
Iran will resume negotiations with six world powers, including the US, in Geneva on Thursday, talks aimed at ending a standoff over its nuclear work that Tehran denies is weapons-related.
Rouhani hopes a deal there will mean an end to sanctions that have cut the OPEC country’s oil exports and hurt the wider economy, but any concession that looks like Iran is compromising on what it sees as its sovereign right to peaceful nuclear technology will be strongly resisted by conservatives.
“No one should consider our negotiators as compromisers,” Khamenei said in a speech, a day before the November 4th anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran, a pivotal event in US-Iranian relations, the ISNA news agency reported.
“They have a difficult mission and no one must weaken an official who is busy with work,” said Khamenei, who wields ultimate power in Iran’s dual clerical-republic system, including over the nuclear programme.
Hardline factions, who oppose any thaw in relations with the US, have criticised Rouhani’s negotiating team for not releasing details of the proposal they made to world powers at a previous round of talks in Geneva last month.
They have also resisted calls from moderate Iranian newspapers and prominent figures including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to drop the “Death to America” chant, often heard at Friday prayers throughout Iran.
Khamenei reiterated previous statements that he is not optimistic about the outcome of nuclear talks but said he saw no downside to holding the negotiations.
“With God’s permission, we will not be harmed by these negotiations . . . if the negotiations reach a conclusion then all the better, but if they don’t it will mean that the country must stand on its own feet,” Khamenei said. – (Reuters)