United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Khamenei Comments: U.S.-Iran Talks Won’t Solve Any Problems

            In two major speeches in February, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei focused on the nuclear program, Iran-U.S. relations and domestic infighting.

            In a speech on February 7, Khamenei rejected U.S. overtures for direct talks on the nuclear issue. He also criticized the United States for enforcing new sanctions, saying Iran cannot negotiate “under pressures and threats.” Khamenei also referenced recent public disputes between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. Government officials should stop this “improper conduct” and “join hands against the enemy,” he warned.
 
            The Supreme Leader claimed Iran has no intention to build nuclear weapons in another speech on February 16. But he warned that if Tehran decided to build them, the United States could not stop it. Khamenei called Washington hypocritical on nuclear proliferation, human rights and democracy promotion.
 
            But the Supreme Leader suggested that the two sides could negotiate if the United States acts and speaks “reasonably” on the nuclear issue. He stipulated that Iran will not relinquish its right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear energy.
 
            Khamenei also issued a second warning to Iranian politicians to focus on the “common enemy”and solving economic republics instead of arguing with each other. The following are excerpts from the Supreme Leader’s speeches.
 
Nuclear Program and Diplomacy
 
            "If Iran had decided to build nuclear weapons, America would not have been able to stop the Iranian nation in any way..."
            "The Islamic Republic of Iran has not decided to build nuclear weapons and this decision is not because of America's concern. Rather, this decision is based on the belief that building nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity. Besides stressing that they should not be produced, it demands that the existing nuclear weapons be wiped out…"
            "On the nuclear issue of Iran, the argument is not about nuclear weapons. Rather, they want to deny Iran its natural and absolute right to enrich uranium and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Of course, they will not succeed in preventing the Iranian nation and our nation will fulfill its objective which is based on its absolute right…" February 16 in a speech to the people of Tabriz
 
Iran-U.S. Relations
 
            "The Americans expect the others to give in to their unreasonable demands and their bullying, as a number of people have given in to their demands. But the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic do not give in because they have the ability to reason, and they have power and authority…"
            "The Americans claim to support democracy while they support countries in the region which do not know the first thing about democracy, and in which the people have not seen ballot boxes even once..."
            "If the Americans show, in words and actions, that they are not irrational, then they will see that the Islamic Republic and the people of Iran are well-wishing, reasonable and cooperative..." February 16 in a speech to the people of Tabriz
 
            “I am not a diplomat. I am a revolutionary. I speak openly and honestly. A diplomat says something, but he actually means something else. We speak openly and honestly. We speak clearly and decisively. Negotiations are meaningful when the two sides show their good intentions. [Negotiations are not meaningful] when one side does not show his good intentions. You yourselves refer to this as pressures and negotiations. These two things are not compatible. You want to point the gun at the people of Iran and say, negotiate or we will shoot… Negotiations with America will not solve any problems…” 
            “During a certain period after the Revolution, the officials of the country trusted them. But the politicians of the American government labeled Iran as "axis of evil". It is you who are the embodiment of evil. It is you who are doing evil deeds in the world. You wage wars, loot nations and support the Zionist regime. On the issue of Islamic Awakening, you suppress the nations who have risen in revolt as much as you can and you weaken them and pit them against one another... February 7 in a speech to Air Force commanders and personnel
 
Domestic Politics and Infighting
 
            "Unfortunately, in this event the head of a certain branch made an accusation against the other two branches - that is to say, the Parliament and the judiciary branch - on the basis of an unproven allegation which had not even been considered by the court. This course of action was bad, wrong and inappropriate. It was against Sharia and the law and it was an immoral act..."
"The things which the honorable Speaker of the Parliament said in his own defense were excessive. It was not necessary to do that… Neither that accusation, that behavior nor that questioning was appropriate..." February 16 in a speech to the people of Tabriz
 
            “This improper conduct which is witnessed in certain areas from certain government officials - they should end this. By Allah's favor, I will address this issue in the future and I will speak to the people. Our nation is unified, determined and active. Even if there are differences of opinion between the people over different issues, all the officials and all the people join hands against the enemy, global arrogance and those who have prepared themselves to destroy the roots of the people and the Islamic Republic…” February 7 in a speech to Air Force commanders and personnel
 
Sanctions and the Economy
 
            "The aim of the sanctions is, as they [Americans] have repeatedly said, to exhaust the Iranian nation and to make it separate from the Islamic Republic. Therefore, even if negotiations are conducted but our people stay present on the scene and stand up for their rights, sanctions will continue…"
            "The people, particularly the underprivileged classes, truly feel the hardships. But they do not separate themselves from the Islamic Republic because they know that the Islamic Republic and the dear Islam are the powerful hands which can solve the problems." February 16 in a speech to the people of Tabriz
 
Achievements on the 34th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution
 
            “Compare the Iranian nation, today, with nations who have been under the domination of American power. See where you are and where they are. With their movement, independence, self-confidence and reliance on God, the Iranian people proved that one can and should stand up against the domination of foreigners and those who seek domination…” February 7 in a speech to Air Force commanders and personnel
 
             “The Iranian people “safeguard their great achievement and this great wealth - which is the source of their dignity and independence - with courage, wisdom and awareness of the requirements of their time. They show their presence exactly where they should. As you saw, yesterday the people in Tehran and all the cities throughout the country entered this arena with all their heart and soul. This is a very astonishing phenomenon. This is a very significant event… The fact that after the passage of 34 years since the first anniversary of the Revolution, the people are present on the scene in such a way is very important. Men, women, the old, the young, people from different places and from different social backgrounds show their presence. This is really the greatest divine blessing.” February 11 in a speech to clerics and students

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