Khamenei Open to Direct U.S. Talks

March 24, 2013

            Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he is not opposed to direct talks with the United States in a speech marking Nowruz, the Persian New Year. But he is “not optimistic” about prospects for success if negotiations take place. Khamenei claimed that the United States “doesn’t want the nuclear conflict to end.” The “archenemy of Iran” uses negotiation offers to “mislead public opinion in the world and in Iran,” he told thousands of pilgrims in the holy city of Mashhad on March 21.

            The supreme leader claimed the Islamic Republic is not seeking nuclear weapons, and only wants to “preserve its right to [uranium] enrichment.” But Israel is not convinced, and it is determined to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Khamenei threatened to “raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground” if Israel strikes.
 
            Khamenei claimed that Western sanctions have “failed to cripple the Iranian nation” in another Nowruz address broadcast on March 20. But he acknowledged that Iranians were “under pressure” during the past year. Khamenei also seemed to reference government mismanagement of the economy. “There were certain cases of negligence and laxity, which aided the enemy in his plans.”
 
            The supreme leader encouraged Iranians to vote in the June presidential election. “All those who are committed to our national interests… have a right and responsibility to take part in the elections,” he said on March 21. Khamenei also warned against disputing the results of the election, telling Iranians to “accept what the majority of the people decide through their votes.”
 
            The following are excerpts from Khamenei’s speeches marking the start of the Persian year 1392, which he dubbed “The Year of Political and Economic Valor." A subtitled video of his March 20 address is also included below.
 

Direct U.S.-Iran Negotiations
 
            “The Americans have been sending messages for some time asking Iran to hold separate negotiations with them regarding the nuclear issue, but on the basis of our past experiences I am not optimistic about such negotiations…”
 
            “From the viewpoint of the Americans, negotiation does not mean that we should sit down together and try to find a logical solution. This is not what they mean by negotiation. What they mean is that we should sit down together and speak until Iran accepts their views. The goal has been announced in advance: Iran will have to accept their views. For this reason, we have always announced that this is not negotiation. This is imposition and Iran will not give in to imposition... Of course, I am not opposed either [to direct talks]…”
 
            “The Americans constantly send messages saying that they are sincere in their offers of rational negotiations. They claim that they sincerely want to have rational negotiations with Iran - that is to say, they claim that they do not want imposition. In response, I would say, we have told you many times that we are not after nuclear weapons and you say that you do not believe us. Why would we believe your statements? When you are not prepared to accept a rational and sincere statement, why would we accept your statements which have been disproved on many occasions?”
 
            “Our interpretation is that offers of negotiation are an American tactic to mislead public opinion in the world and in Iran. If this is not the case, the Americans should prove their sincerity with actions…”
 
            “At times, the Americans have claimed that certain individuals have negotiated with them on behalf of the Leader of Iran. But this is a downright lie and so far nobody has ever negotiated with America on behalf of the Leader…”
 
            “Over the years in different governments, certain individuals have negotiated with them over certain short-term issues and I was not opposed. However, this was done by different governments. Of course, they had a responsibility to observe the Leader's red lines and today they have the same responsibility and must observe the red lines…”
 
            “If the Americans truly want to resolve the nuclear issue with Iran, the solution is easy: they should acknowledge Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes… Past experiences and the existing conditions show that the Americans are not after resolving this issue and they want the nuclear issue to remain unresolved so that they have a pretext to pressure and ‘cripple' the Iranian nation. Of course, much to the dismay of the enemies, the Iranian nation will not be crippled…”
 
            “If the Americans sincerely want to put an end to the issues, the solution that we propose is that they should stop being hostile towards the Iranian nation in words and in action…” March 21, to pilgrims in Mashhad

U.S-Iran Relations
 
            “The main center for designing machinations against the Iranian nation is America and today after the passage of 34 years, whenever the word ‘enemy' is mentioned, the Iranian nation quickly thinks of America…”
 
            “American officials should think carefully about this issue and they should ask themselves why the Iranian nation quickly thinks of America whenever they hear the word ‘enemy'…”
 
            “Despite their claims of friendship with the Iranian nation, the Americans started imposing harsh and widespread oil and banking sanctions on Iran and they insist that they should not be considered enemies in spite of these hostile actions…”
 
            “In spite of these deceptive moves, they started a well-planned initiative and they expected that after a few months, the Iranian nation would give in to their bullying and put an end to its growing scientific activities. However, what happened was contrary to the will and predictions of the ill-wishers…”
 
            “We were never worried about your [U.S.] intentions of overthrowing the Islamic Republic because even when you had this intention and you would announce this openly, you could not do anything and you will not be able to do anything in the future either…” March 21, to pilgrims in Mashhad
 
Nuclear Issue
 
            “[W]e have told you [the United States] many times that we are not after nuclear weapons and you say that you do not believe us…”
 
            “If the Americans truly want to resolve the nuclear issue with Iran, the solution is easy: they should acknowledge Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes…”
 
            “The young Iranian scientists' move to produce twenty-percent enriched uranium to be used in the Tehran research reactor for the purpose of producing radiopharmaceuticals is one example of such intelligent proactive measures which should be adopted in the case of all essential issues of the country…” March 21, to pilgrims in Mashhad
 
Sanctions and the Economy
 
            “Of course, on the surface of the issue, the enemies were harsh, but below the surface was the experience of the Iranian nation and its victory in different arenas. Our enemies had targeted different areas, mainly economic and political. On the economic front, they announced and reiterated that they wanted to cripple the Iranian nation through sanctions. However, they failed to cripple the Iranian nation and by Allah's favor and grace, we achieved a lot of progress in different areas…”
 
            “On the economic front, of course the people were under pressure and certain problems were caused. In particular, there were certain flaws inside the country. There were certain cases of negligence and laxity which aided the enemy in his plans…”
 
            “On the economic front, it is necessary to pay attention to domestic production, just as had been stressed in last year's slogan. Of course, certain things were done, but promoting domestic production and supporting Iranian labor and capital is a long-term issue: it cannot reach the desired outcome in one year…” March 20, in a televised address for Nowruz
 
            “In this [economic] arena which is full of challenges, the Iranian nation has managed to turn threats into opportunities by relying on its intelligence, capacities and power. Just like a sporting champion, the Iranian nation has managed to emerge victorious out of a tough and tiring competition, making everybody praise it…”
 
            “The successes and achievements of the Iranian nation in this challenging arena are such that even perceptive political and academic elites in different countries, including the ill-wishers of Iran, have been forced to praise the Iranian nation…”
 
            “They have announced that their goal is to cripple the Iranian nation and to bring it to its knees. Therefore, if our nation resists their pressure, stays vibrant and achieves more advances, they will lose credibility…”
 
            “All these pressures and enmities, particularly the sanctions, have had great positive effects in addition to their negative effects. One the most important positive effects was that last year domestic capacities of the Iranian nation were activated and great achievements were made in areas relating to infrastructure…”
 
            “Discovering new sources of oil and uranium, building and developing power plants and refineries, adopting measures relating to infrastructure in the area of building roads and developing the energy sector, accomplishing important scientific and technological achievements … in a year in which the Iranian nation was supposed to be crippled by the sanctions…”
 
            “The great lesson that the achievements and victories of the year 1391 contain is that a vibrant nation will never be brought to its knees as a result of its enemy's sanctions, pressure and harsh measures…” March 21, to pilgrims in Mashhad
 
Oil Dependence
           
            “The sanctions have had an effect, but they have not had the effect that they were after… If the sanctions have been effective, it is because our economy is dependent on oil and for this reason, an economy that is free from oil should be among the main plans and priorities of the next government…”
 
            “Seventeen, eighteen years ago, I told the government of that time and its officials that they should act in a way that we could shut down our oil wells whenever we wanted to. The so-called ‘technocrats' smiled in disbelief and said it was not possible…”
 
            “Dependence of the country on oil, disregarding large-scale economic policies of the country and being tangled up in daily policies are among the weaknesses that our government officials - particularly officials of the next government - should pay attention to and they should know that the country must have large-scale economic policies that are clear, well-planned and well-organized…” March 21, in a speech in Mashhad

The June 2013 Presidential Election
 
            “Elections represent the power and political valor of the Islamic system, Iran's national willpower and the pride of the Islamic Republic…”
 
            “Massive and enthusiastic presence of the people in the elections, besides ensuring national security, will counter the enemies' threats and make them disappointed…”
 
            “The elections are not for a particular political current or orientation, rather all those who are committed to our national interests and independence of the country have a right and responsibility to take part in the elections…”
 
            “Turning away from the elections is appropriate for those who are opposed to the Islamic Republic… What is important is that you should exercise judgment and vote. You should do research, observe carefully and consult those you trust so that you can identify and vote for the most qualified candidate…”
 
            “Nobody should say that the Leader supports such and such a candidate and not another. If such a claim is made, it is false…”
 
            “The events of the year 1388 [2009] started when certain people decided not to accept the law and the votes of the people, and they called on their supporters to conduct street protests, which was an irreversible mistake…”
 
            “Fortunately we have the necessary legal mechanisms to eliminate the possible suspicions. Therefore, everybody should accept what the majority of the people decide through their votes…”
 
            “Any in-coming president should enjoy the advantages that his predecessors had and should not suffer from the weaknesses of the previous presidents…”
 
            “The governments that are elected one after the other should help us move towards improvement and perfection and we should gradually move towards electing the best among us…”
 
            “Those who enter the arena of presidential elections should be committed to our values and to the Islamic Revolution. They should be committed to our national interests and have faith in running the country on the basis of communal wisdom…” March 21, in a speech in Mashhad
 
            “Regarding political issues, the great event of the year 1392 is the presidential elections, which will in fact determine the executive and political destiny of the country - and in a sense, the general destiny of the country - for the next four years. God willing, the people will manage to build a good future for themselves and their country through their presence in this arena…” March 20, in a televised address for Nowruz
 
Israel
 
            “The usurping Zionist regime is too small to be considered among the first row of the enemies of the Iranian nation… If they make any such move [to attack], the Islamic Republic of Iran will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground…”
 
            “The powerful presence of Iran behind the scenes of the 8-day war on Gaza and the defeat that the Zionist regime suffered at the hands of Palestinian combatants and also the ill-wishers' acknowledgement that the regional issues cannot be resolved in the absence of Iran, caused the enmities to fail on these fronts…”March 21, in a speech in Mashhad

Britain, France and the International Community
 
            “Apart from America, which is the archenemy of Iran and the center of machinations, there are other enemies, including the evil English government, which does not enjoy independence and plays a complementary role as the follower of the American government…”
 
            "The Islamic Republic of Iran has not had problems with the French government and people, but the French government has adopted a policy of clear enmity towards to the Iranian nation in the recent years, particularly since the time of Sarkozy, and this wrong policy is still being pursued, which is unwise…”
 
            “The Americans constantly refer to these few enemies of the Iranian nation as ‘the global community'. This is while the global community is not at all determined to be hostile towards the Iranians and Islamic Iran…”
 
            “One of the measures that were adopted on the political front by the ill-wishers of the Iranian nation was their efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic. However, the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran - which was attended by leaders and high-ranking officials of the Non-Aligned Movement, who praised Iran for its amazing scientific, technological and economic advances - foiled the enemies' plot…” March 21, in a speech in Mashhad
 
Click here for the full text of Khamenei’s March 21 speech.
 
Click here for the full text of Khamenei’s March 20 televised address.