Iran’s Supreme Leader Issues Choice Words On US Nuke Deal

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Islamic Republic of Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei harshly denounced the Iran nuclear deal Monday, referring to the negotiations as a “lethal poison” that will prevent his country from negotiating with the U.S. in the future.

“They [the U.S.] want us to negotiate with them on the regional issues but the nuclear deal experience tells us that this is a lethal poison and we cannot trust the Americans’ words in any issue,” Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian citizens Monday.

Khamenei’s comments came in response to an interview with CIA Director John Brennan at the Aspen Security Forum last Friday. Brennan claimed the nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), helped open discussions between the U.S. and Iran on other regional issues.

“In the tenor of relationship, there is still a lot of discussion going on between the US government and Iranian government on a number of outstanding issues to include how the international financial system is going to be able to now react to an Iran that is less encumbered by sanctions. So, there is dialogue,” said Brennan.

Khamenei claimed that two years ago, his government was going to use the nuclear negotiations as a litmus test for future talks, and the results of the deal six months after its implementation prove the U.S. cannot be trusted.

The Islamic Republic’s Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi, a member of the negotiating team, preceded the Supreme Leader’s comments last month when he said the U.S. Treasury Department and Department of State are not unified regarding policy toward Iran.

“In our view, two messages are coming from the U.S.; one from the U.S. state department which says that there is no problem for banking and financial works with Iran and the second from the OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department) which contradicts the first message,” said Ravanchi.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi reiterated the Islamic Republic’s position on the issue Monday, saying “except nuclear topics, no other negotiations have been and will be held between Iran and the U.S.”

Various officials within the Islamic Republic have criticized the U.S. for implementing new sanctions against Iran since the JCPOA went into effect in January. They claim the deal prevents the U.S. from implementing any new sanctions against their country, however, the deal only pertains to nuclear related sanctions that existed before the accord was signed. Khamenei threatened to “set fire” to the deal in June should the West violate it, he did not elaborate on what exactly entailed a violation.

Brennan noted in his interview that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate figure with whom the U.S. can build a relationship. Unfortunately, Rouhani is not the highest authority in Iranian politics, and while he and the hard-line Supreme Leader often clash, Rouhani has only as much power over foreign policy as the Supreme Leader allows him and his government.

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