Iran Leader Khamenei: We are not Opposed to Nuclear Talks, Will Accept Just Deal

By Juan Cole | —

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the clerical Leader of Iran, told an assemblage of volunteer paramilitary (Basij) forces on Thursday that he is not opposed to nuclear talks with the P5 +1 and would accept a just and reasonable deal. I said that a breakdown in the talks, which have been extended for a further 7 months, will not harm Iran. Rather, he said, it would hurt the USA.

BBC Monitoring translated him as saying,

“We are not opposed to the extension of the talks, for the same reason that we weren’t opposed to the talks in the first place. Of course we will accept any fair and reasonable agreement, but we know that it’s the US government that needs an agreement and will suffer if no agreement is reached. If these nuclear talks do not achieve any results, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not lose anything.”

The Basij consists of hundreds of thousands of volunteer paramilitary forces, and they are extremely conservative and mostly dislike foreigners. For Khamenei to tell them that he doesn’t oppose talks with the US or their extension would be like Sarah Palin telling a Tea Party audience she rather enjoys negotiation with Iran and could imagine going on doing so for some time. In other words, Khamenei’s speech is huge, and is a much bigger sign of support than it appears on the surface for the negotiations with the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Iran has a civilian nuclear enrichment program aiming at producing fuel for nuclear reactors so as to keep the country independent from the US-led international financial and economic system. Many outside observers allege that Iran must be seeking clandestinely to produce a nuclear warhead. There is, however, as of this point no evidence for any Iranian desire for a nuclear weapon. Khamenei has repeatedly given oral fatwas or considered legal opinions that making, stockpiling and using nucearl weapons is illegal in Islamic law. That Khamenei is anti-nuclear weaponry may help explain the tensions in Iran’s elite, which perhaps does want a weapon. Khamenei’s policy is to appease the hard liners with harsh rhetoric and to allow the scientific and security establishment in Iran to pursue making fuel for nuclear reactors. Centrifuge enrichment technology is dual use, so that this way of proceeding keeps the possibility alive for Iran hardliners that Khamenei or his successor might undo the fatwa against nuclear warheads.

Khamenei hinted at the reason for which a final deal was not reached last weekend:

“The main policy of the Islamic Republic is to confront arrogance and the arrogant US government, and there should not be any mistakes or misgivings about this. Of course, we do not have a problem with the American people. Our problem is with the US government’s bullying and excessive demands…”

I think it is likely a deal could be had within the next 7 months because whatever he says, Khamenei clearly wants one if he doesn’t think the offer is just too humiliating.

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Related video:

RT “No Deal: Iran nuclear talks extended until July 1 ”

7 Responses

    • Or, can Israel/KSA accept such a deal?

      This could be seen as a test or whether the US is capable of putting its own self-interests above that of a couple other nations who have proven to be very good at manipulating it.

      What is a stake is whether Israel/KSA etal can keep Iran from becoming a bigger factor in the region, completely apart from this business of nukes, to their detriment and to the benefit of the US.

  1. “Of course we will accept any fair and reasonable agreement, …

    So what’s the problem? “Our problem is with the US government’s bullying and excessive demands…”

  2. I read a great WSJ article on the talks: link to online.wsj.com. i call it great because it actually details the bargaining positions of the various involved parties, that most news outlets omitted.

    And btw, it’s nucular not nucearl ;-) But Nuc Earl sounds like a great tv series.

  3. Khamenei is in a good position to sound and to be more reasonable and relaxed than anyone in the West because he is not hobbled by being chained to the pit bull leaders of the most roguish nation in the Middle East, or to anyone else. And yet people keep referring to the U.S. as a superpower! The Middle East has long since shot down that notion.

    I have always thought that the Iranian leaders are well aware that developing and maintaining nuclear weapons is a supreme waste of time, money, resources, and just about everything else, and they’ve actually never had anywhere near the interest in having such weapons that B. Netanyahu so obsessively keeps trying to persuade everyone that they really have.

    The Iranians don’t need nuclear weapons. Just by being where they are, and being 70 or 80 million strong, and sitting on all that territory and oil, and incidentally, by never having sent their planes to bomb any of their neighbors (except Saddam, who was the sort who provoked such things), they have a better reputation among their neighbors and in general they far, far outshine that tiny snarling place gone mad from mistaking for wine too much of the waters of the Dead Sea. But the nuclear weapons stuff does allow Iran to keep rattling the western cages, so there’s that for Khamenei.

    All in all he’s in the driver’s seat here, while the Western leaders are just doing a lot of pointless yammering, without even a suggestion of a leg to stand on. It’s an amazing spectacle to watch, if impossible to understand. If they weren’t so dense about wanting to do Iran in, these leaders would actually be encouraging Iran to develop those weapons instead, complete with the lovely problem of what to do with the waste, and then Iran would be in the same leaky boat that all those already holding nukes have long been enduring.

    Even if he is religious, Khamenei is a shrewd rascal, but nobody in the West wants to give him that kind of credit, because he doesn’t appear to be white.

  4. But professor, we have known all along that Iran wants a reasonable deal. What we don’t know is whether it is AIPAC or Pentagon blocking it. Congress? That’s AIPAC country. It dances to AIPAC’s tune. So, who is blocking it?

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