Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei turned down a proposal for direct talks with the United States in a move that will likely keep up a stalemate between the two nations over Iran’s disputed nuclear program and other outstanding issues.
“You (the Americans) point the gun at Iran and say either negotiations or we pull the trigger! You should know that pressure and negotiations don’t go together, and the [Iranian] nation will not be intimidated by such things,” he said on state television.
Khamenei was likely responding to comments made last week by Vice President Joe Biden during a security meeting in Germany, which Iran’s foreign minister attended. The United States and five other world powers are slated to continue talks over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program later this month after months of deadlock, reported The Associated Press.
Responding to comments made by the vice president, Khamenei said, “The ball is in your court, because you should answer the question of whether speaking of negotiations at the same time as continuing pressure and threats makes any sense at all,” according to Press TV, an Iranian state-run, English-language broadcaster.
This week, the United States increased sanctions on Iran even after existing sanctions cut the Islamic Republic’s oil revenue by 45 percent, reported AP. Iran’s economy relies heavily on its oil exports and the new sanctions aim to reduce export revenue further.
Khamenei’s rhetoric against bilateral talks can serve as a warning to other Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi previously said there would be some “positive consideration” of Biden’s recommendation last week, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Khamenei, however, said that American policy in the Middle East was a “failure” and therefore, the Obama administration is forced to use its “trump card,” meaning that the Islamic Republic should not pay heed to Washington, Press TV reported.
The supreme leader’s speech also underscored how all major decisions made in Iran must receive his final approval.
But U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Western countries will have a new offer for Iran in the near future.
“We want to work with Iran, in the spirit of mutual respect, on the concrete steps needed to address the international community’s serious concerns about its nuclear program,” he said, reported the Guardian. “We will approach the talks in Almaty with an updated and credible offer for Iran. The onus is on Iran to respond seriously and turn its declared willingness to negotiate into concrete action.”
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