Tehran has sent mixed messages on President Obama’s secretary of state nominee John Kerry and defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. Two Foreign Ministry officials said they hoped Kerry and Hagel would revise U.S. foreign policy towards Iran. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and two high-ranking military commanders did not share their cautious optimism.
Khamenei said the nominees should account for "pressure and threats" to show goodwill, basically ruling out direct talks with the United States while sanctions are in place. “Our historical experience tells us that switching officials will not change [U.S] policies,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Revolutionary Guards, told Iran’s official broadcasting agency. “We cannot trust those who have been lying to us for 34 years,” said Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafar Assadi. The following are excerpts from Iranian officials’ comments on John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
"The Americans have repeatedly raised the issue of negotiations at every juncture. Now their newly appointed politicians repeat that we should negotiate. And they say that the ball is in Iran's court. The ball is in your court. It is you who should explain the meaning of negotiations that are accompanied by pressure and threats. Negotiations are for the sake of proving one's goodwill. You commit tens of acts which show lack of goodwill and then you speak about negotiations. Do you expect the Iranian nation to believe that you have goodwill?" Feb. 7, 2013 in a speech to Air Force personnel
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi
“We hope that he [John Kerry], given his personal characteristics, will be able to at least help revise part of the U.S. government’s approaches, and anti-Iran policies, and will help reduce the loss of lives and financial losses inflicted on regional nations and the people of the United States caused by the U.S. foreign policy.” Feb. 1, 2013 to Fars News Agency
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Revolutionary Guards
“We view the United States as a political and ideological system driven by its strategic interests. Our historical experience tells us that switching officials will not change policies... We have learned that there are major contradictions between the words and practice of the Western powers, and we will react to their actions and not their words.” Jan. 14, 2013 in comments on Chuck Hagel to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast
“We hope there will be practical changes in American foreign policy and that Washington becomes respectful of the rights of nations.” Jan. 8, 2013 in comments on Chuck Hagel to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafar Assadi, Deputy Inspector of Khatam al Anbia Air Base
“…We cannot trust those who have been lying to us for 34 years. Our greatest enemy is the United States and global imperialism, and the bigger threat to us is Israel.” Jan. 20, 2013 in comments on Chuck Hagel to Fars News Agency