Iran's Khamenei rejects US nuclear talks offer

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (October 2012) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said talks with the US would solve nothing

Iran's supreme leader has dismissed a US offer of one-to-one talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech posted online that the US was proposing talks while "pointing a gun at Iran".

On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden suggested direct talks, separate to the wider international discussions due to take place later this month.

But the US widened sanctions on Iran on Wednesday, aiming to tighten a squeeze on Tehran's ability to spend oil cash.

Iran, which is subject to an array of international sanctions, has long argued that its nuclear programme is for energy generation and research.

Tehran's critics believe the government is developing nuclear weapons.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have held a series of negotiations with Iran over the years.

But they have often ended with Iran demanding the West lifts sanctions as a condition to any nuclear move, and the Western powers refusing.

Iran is expected to attend another round of negotiations on 26 February in Kazakhstan.

'No threats'

Mr Biden made his offer of direct talks during a security conference in Germany last weekend.


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been trying hard to "reset" Iran-US relations, but each time he has tried to do so, he has been hindered by Ayatollah Khamenei.

Mr Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said he was ready to talk directly to US leaders, but his signals have not been taken seriously. The White House knows that in the end, the ayatollah has the final say in foreign policy.

US President Barack Obama started his second term by sending fresh positive signals to Iran, the latest being Mr Biden's offer of one-to-one talks. Ayatollah Khamenei has criticised Mr Ahmadinejad and his foreign minister for welcoming Washington's offer. The ayatollah had previously described Mr Obama's "extended hand" of friendship as being "covered with a velvet glove, but underneath, it is made of cast iron".

He said Washington was prepared to hold one-to-one talks with Iran "when the Iranian leadership, supreme leader, is serious".

"That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise," he said.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi welcomed the offer, saying Iran had no "red lines".

"But we have to make sure... that the other side comes with authentic intentions with a fair and real intention to resolve the issue," he said.

The minister said Iran would take the offer into "serious consideration", but the US had to desist from the "threatening rhetoric that everything is on the table".

Iran's supreme leader, however, said negotiations with the US "would solve nothing".

"You are pointing a gun at Iran saying you want to talk. The Iranian nation will not be frightened by the threats," he said.

Crippling sanctions

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has several times announced he was ready for direct talks with the US.

But Ayatollah Khamenei's advisers have criticised the president for making such a "submissive" offer, says the BBC's Bozorgmehr Sharafedin.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has repeatedly accused Iran of not co-operating fully.

In its last report in November 2012, the agency expressed particular concern about activities at a facility in Parchin, just 20km (13 miles) from Tehran.

The agency wanted to investigate claims that Iran had built an explosive-containment vessel to conduct experiments there, saying such experiments "would be strong indicators of possible nuclear weapon development".

But Iran refused to give inspectors permission to visit the site.

Iran's repeated failure to ease international concerns has led to a gradual tightening of economic and political sanctions.

Analysts say Iran's economy is being hobbled. Its currency, the rial, has seen its value plunge, and vital medicines are said to be in short supply.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    It is no good offering talks and then slapping even more sanctions. Banking sanctions are hurting Iranian people & not the government. Iranians can't buy anything unless they turn up with a suitcase of cash. Sanctions only harden attitudes. Unilateral sanctions such as banking are not authorised by the UN & only help the perception of economic warfare. Would we just sit up and beg if it was us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    What a mess we have in the middle east...and despite all the armchair critics on HYS, nobody really has a viable answer.

    I agree that war is not the answer...but at the same time you are quite frankly extremely naive if you think doing nothing and 'leaving them to it' wont lead to an equally devastating end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I agree with Khamenei.
    Iran is having guns pointed at it.
    Khamenei was too polite: the sanctions imposed and invasions of Iranian airspace by US drones are nothing short of acts of war!

    Iran is pursuing this in the ICC - hardly the act of a rogue state.

    Fact: Iran is signatory to UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has NEVER been ruled in violation of it. Israel refuses to sign it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    The Ayatollah is right. Iran is threatened by many countries that have nuclear capability - they are looking after themselves and good luck to them. If I was them I'd propose that US (and everyone else) get rid of their nukes and let Iranian scientists check them for WMD...see how they like it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Denying ordinary Iranians of medical supplies is not the ideal solution as far as sanctions are concerned. Sanctions are not effective in trying to curb Irans Nuclear enthusiasm.
    I'm dreading the day that the first direct military action against Iran is announced. It will be the beginning of the end...


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