Ay­a­tol­lah: Hos­til­ity be­tween Iran, ‘ar­ro­gant’ U.S. won’t change

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY CAROL MORELLO carol.morello@wash­post.com

Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, said Satur­day that hos­til­ity be­tween the Is­lamic re­pub­lic and the “ar­ro­gant” United States will not abate af­ter a land­mark nu­clear agree­ment and that Iran will keep sup­port­ing re­gional groups and gov­ern­ments that theWest op­poses.

“Whether the deal is ap­proved or dis­ap­proved, we will never stop sup­port­ing our friends in the re­gion and the peo­ple of Palestine, Ye­men, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Le­banon,” Khamenei said at the end of prayers mark­ing the end of the Is­lamic holy month of Ramadan. “Even af­ter this deal, our pol­icy to­ward the ar­ro­gant U.S. will not change. We don’t have any ne­go­ti­a­tions or deal with theU.S. on dif­fer­ent is­sues in the world or the re­gion.”

Khamenei’s speech was his first since Iran and six world pow­ers, in­clud­ing the United States, an­nounced Tues­day that they had reached an agree­ment in which Iran ac­cepts re­stric­tions on its nu­clear power pro­gram for 10 years or longer, and in­tru­sive in­spec­tions of its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties. In re­turn, Iran can ex­pect to see in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions start to be lifted by the end of this year or early next year.

Khamenei’s re­marks are sig­nif­i­cant be­cause, as supreme leader, he has the fi­nal word on of­fi­cial pol­icy; if he op­poses the agree­ment, Iran could back out of the deal. His speech was broad­cast on state tele­vi­sion, and some mem­bers of the au­di­ence could be heard chant­ing “Death to Amer­ica” and “Death to Is­rael,” as is com­mon at ral­lies at­tended by hard-lin­ers.

Khamenei’s crit­i­cism ap­peared to be an at­tempt to ap­pease hard­lin­ers who op­pose ne­go­ti­a­tions with the United States, which many still re­fer to as “the Great Satan.” Many of the deal’s crit­ics in the United States have said Tehran is likely to take at least some of more than $100 bil­lion in Ira­nian as­sets that will be un­frozen when sanc­tions are lifted and di­vert it to groups such asHezbol­lah and Ha­mas, Houthi rebels in Ye­men and the gov­ern­ment of Bashar al-As­sad in Syria.

Khamenei’s re­marks are of­ten cryptic to Western ears, and dur­ing more than a year and a half of ne­go­ti­a­tions, he al­ter­nately praised Ira­nian ne­go­tia­tors and con­demned the United States. Iran’s ne­go­tia­tors were al­lied with Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani, who is con­sid­ered more of a prag­ma­tist fa­vor­ing greater en­gage­ment with the world. But the ne­go­tia­tors were re­peat­edly as­sured dur­ing the talks that they were act­ing with the au­thor­ity of Khamenei.

He did not ad­dress the specifics of the deal, although he por­trayed it as a win for Iran. While Iran agreed to pare back twothirds of its ura­nium-en­rich­ing cen­trifuges, it will be left with thou­sands of cen­trifuges and be al­lowed to con­tinue re­search into more ef­fi­cient mod­els that could be in­stalled af­ter the agree­ment’s pro­vi­sions end.

Iran has al­ways in­sisted that its nu­clear pro­gram is only for civil­ian pur­poses such as energy pro­duc­tion. But the United States and its al­lies be­lieve Iran was try­ing to de­velop nu­clear weapons un­der a pro­gram aban­doned in 2003. The ne­go­ti­ated deal was de­signed to block Iran’s abil­ity to build nu­clear weapons for a decade or more.

“The Amer­i­cans say they stopped Iran from ac­quir­ing a nu­clear weapon,” Khamenei said. “They know it’s not true.”

Khamenei said Iran con­sid­ers nu­clear weapons anti-Is­lamic, and added, “It had noth­ing to do with the nu­clear talks.”

Next week, a res­o­lu­tion will be in­tro­duced at the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil lay­ing the ground­work for lift­ing sanc­tions and en­dors­ing the agree­ment fi­nal­ized in Vi­enna.

REUTERS

Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, leads morn­ing prayers Satur­day for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, at the Imam Khome­ini grand mosque in cen­tral Tehran.

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