Iran will not negotiate with US, says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Washington is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: ‘We will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm.’ Photograph: AP
Iran will not negotiate with the United States over its nuclear and missile programmes, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, after the president, Hassan Rouhani, signalled talks with Washington might be possible if sanctions were lifted.
Washington withdrew last year from an international nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015, and it is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.
US president Donald Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile programme and role in conflicts around the Middle East.
Mr Trump said on Monday he was hopeful Iran would come to negotiating table to reach a new deal: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal . . . and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”
The ayatollah was quoted as saying on his website: “We said before that we will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm.”
“We will not negotiate over the core values of the revolution. We will not negotiate over our military capabilities,” he was quoted as saying.
Earlier in the day, Mr Rouhani had taken a more positive stance.
In remarks carried by state television, he said: “Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfil their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed.
“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words.”
The ayatollah has the final say in all major policies under Iran’s dual system, split between the clerical establishment and the government. He is also the head of the armed forces.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran saw no prospect of negotiations with the United States.
Last week the Pentagon announced the deployment of 900 additional troops to the Middle East, and extended the deployment of another 600 service members in the region, describing it as an effort to bolster defences against Iran. – Reuters