Iran’s supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke on Saturday to cadets at a military school, and in the course of his speech he referred to the new round of diplomacy with the United States initiated by President Hassan Rouhani with the United States. Khamenei was largely supportive of Rouhani’s initiative, saying “we approve and support the government’s diplomatic moves.” He said he is “optimistic” about the Iranian government’s “diplomatic initiative.”
He did say that something “inappropriate” (ghayr-i mola’em) occurred on Rouhani’s trip, which is probably a reference to the Iranian president’s brief phone call with Barack Obama. That phone call had also been criticized by Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaafari, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Jaafari said that Rouhani should have waited until he had gotten something tangible from the US before making that call to Obama. Khamenei seems to agree. But note that Jaafari didn’t say no such call should ever be made, only that it was premature given that so far Rouhani is empty-handed.
On the other hand, Khamenei expressed suspicion of whether the US is negotiating in good faith. He views it as an aggressive power seeking dominance over others, and reminded his young audience of the treaty of extraterritoriality that Iran had with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, when there were US bases and US troops in Iran. By the terms of the treaty, US military personnel were not subject to Iranian law of courts. Khamenei recalls that an American sergeant could beat up an Iranian colonel, and the Iranian would have no recourse. (Similar resentments recently beset the Shiites of Iraq, which is one reason the Iraqi parliament declined to allow US troops to stay in that country after December of 2011).
Khamenei also decried the US, which he said is “dominated” by what he called “the international Zionist network.” That is, he sees the US as subordinate to Israeli influence rather than as acting in American interests. He doesn’t explain how the US can be “arrogant” and “trespassing” but also allow itself to be bossed around by a small country of 7.5 million.
The suspicion is mutual. On Saturday President Obama said that Iran was a year or more away from having a nuclear weapon. While he may have intended to tamp down Israeli hysteria that Iran is on the brink of having warheads, he conceded too much by his phraseology. It is not proved that Iran has a nuclear weapons program at all, or that it is even seeking a bomb, as opposed to a breakout capability. So it may not be a year away from having a bomb, it may be forever from having one.
Undersecretary of State for political affairs Wendy Sherman the point person in US negotiations with Iran, asked Congress not to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran given it just opened a round of diplomacy. But she went on to say that the Obama administration would insist on thorough-going negotiations, saying of Iran that “we know that deception is part of the DNA”.
I don’t think people in Washington who talk like that realize how offensive such language is, with racialist overtones. Try saying of a Western country that deception is part of its people’s DNA and see what happens to you. I’m sure the Islamic Republic is duplicitous, but I’m not sure it is a matter of DNA or that it is more duplicitous than many other governments that are US allies.
In any case, Khamenei has given evidence in support of Rouhani’s assertion that the Leader has given him support in his diplomatic initiative, and has expressed “optimism” about that initiative despite his distrust of Washington and its special relationship with Israel.
The USG Open Source Center translated Khamenei’s remarks from his website.
“Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Pessimistic’ About USA
. . . Speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i at a military cadets ceremony in Tehran on 5 October — recorded
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
The Iranian nation is a nation that has shown its firmness in defending its ideals and interests and it has shown its desire for safety and peace and coexistence with Muslim brothers and all human beings. These are parallel to each other. We should add that we approve and support the government’s diplomatic moves. We emphasize diplomatic efforts and measures along with the Iranian nation’s comprehensive preparedness . . . We support whatever our government does, be it the recent events of the (president’s and foreign minister’s) trip (to New York) or other diplomatic efforts and measures they take. Of course, some of the things that happened during the New York trip, we believe, were not proper. However, we are optimistic about the diplomatic delegation of our dear nation and its servant, the government.
Certainly, we are pessimistic about the Americans. We do not trust them. We consider the government of the United States of America as an unreliable, arrogant, illogical, and trespassing government, which is badly possessed and dominated by the international Zionist network. They are forced to appease the extorter and forged regime that has occupied Palestine to observe the illegitimate desires and interests of the international Zionist network. They ought to be flexible against it for the interests of the international Zionist network.
They call it America’s interests, whereas America’s national interests entirely contradict what they are doing today in support of the forged regime. The government of the United States of America is blackmailing the entire world, appeasing the forged Zionist regime. We witness these facts. We do not trust the US government. We trust our own officials. We are optimist and we want them (officials) to take right and firm steps carefully and considering all aspects. They should not forget national interests even for a second.
The important point for the Islamic Republic’s system is the internal strength of the structure of the Islamic Republic, the internal strength of the Iranian nation. This has managed to protect the country, national unity, respect to great ideals of the Islamic Republic, and respect to the national honor. The Iranian nation is a dear nation. The revolution gave honor back to them.
The time when an American sergeant could dare to beat up an Iranian colonel on Iranian land and officials of our dear country had to observe the arrogant enemies is over. The Islamic Republic made the Iranian nation dear. This honor remains and it is increasing day by day. It is the duty of all officials and the Iranian nation to defend and steward it. A nation becomes proud by its main identity and honor. Otherwise, the nation cannot make progress. The duty of the Armed Forces is to be prepared. They should have the spirit to defend the ideals and the nation that trusts them and backs them.”