August 18, 2010
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that any talks with arch-foe the United States would occur only if Washington drops “sanctions and threats” against Tehran.
“The respected president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and others have said that we are ready for negotiations. It is right. But not with America,” Khamenei told a gathering of senior Iranian officials, including Ahmadinejad, in a speech broadcast on state television.
“The reason is that America does not enter the field honestly as a normal negotiator. They should drop the face of a superpower, they should drop threats, they should drop sanctions and they should not set a goal for negotiations. Then we are ready.”
The United States, with whom Iran has had no diplomatic ties for more than three decades, led the world powers on June 9 in imposing new U.N. sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.
Western and European nations have approached a dual-track policy of imposing sanctions and calling for talks with Iran in order to make Tehran come to the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear program.
They suspect the program masks a weapons drive, a charge strongly denied by Iran.
Khamenei, the all-powerful leader who has the final say on national issues, said that Iran has always been rejecting U.S. offers for talks “because negotiations under threat are not negotiations.”
“On one hand they threaten us and impose sanctions and show an iron hand and on the other hand, they want us at the negotiating table. We do not consider this as negotiations,” the country’s spiritual guide said.
“Experience has shown that when they cannot answer logic, they bully… we will not budge under pressures and we will respond to these pressures in our own way.”
Earlier this month, Ahmadinejad had urged the United States to join talks on a nuclear fuel swap deal for Iran.
He also offered to hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on “global problems” at the UN General Assembly in September, although Washington rebuffed his proposal.
Condemning the US
Iran took its case against the United States to the United Nations on Wednesday and strongly condemned the top U.S. military chief for saying military action remains a possibility if the country develops nuclear weapons.
Iran’s acting U.N. ambassador Eshagh Alehabib claimed in letters circulated to the secretary-general and presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials and lawmakers “threatened” to use military action under the “totally false” pretense that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Mullen said earlier this month that the U.S. military has a plan to attack Iran although he thinks a military strike is probably a bad idea. Still, he said the risk of Iran developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable and he reiterated that “the military option” remains on the table.
Alehabib said the United States was using threatening language that violates international law and the U.N. Charter and goes against “global efforts to strengthen regional and international peace and security.” He reiterated that Iran “would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack.”