Khamenei Nixes Direct Talks with U.S.

On September 17, Iran’s supreme leader nixed the possibility of bilateral talks with Washington. His remarks came one day after President Donald Trump blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities that cut production in half. Tehran denied involvement. In remarks to seminary students, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seemed to rule out a potential meeting between President Hassan Rouhani and President Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later in September. For months, France has led an initiative to broker talks between Iran and the United States. “The policy of maximum pressure on the Iranian nation is of little importance, and all the officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe that there will be no negotiations at any level with the United States,” said Khamenei.

But the supreme leader didn’t completely close the door on diplomacy. Khamenei laid out conditions under which Tehran and Washington could participate in talks.


The following are remarks by the supreme leader and other Iranian officials on the state of U.S.-Iran diplomacy following the Saudi oil attacks. 


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

“The policy of maximum pressure on the Iranian nation is of little importance, and all the officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe that there will be no negotiations at any level with the United States.”

“Of course, I do not mean that we should cut relations with other governments around the world; we favor relations and talks, yet, the affairs of the country should not be dependent on our foreign relations. Benefit from the facilities of the world, as much as you can, but the cure is inside the country, and the problems can only be solved by the people.”

“They [Iran’s enemies] have done and continue to do everything they can to oppose us, but by God’s grace and power, their actions have had and will have no results; and the Iranian nation will overcome the enemies, especially the United States.”

“Sometimes, they [Americans] say negotiations without prerequisites, other times, they say negotiations with 12 conditions. Such remarks are either due to their turbulent politics or a trick to confuse the other party. Of course, the Islamic Republic won’t be confused, because our path is clear, and we know what we are doing.”

“I’ve been repeating that the U.S. seeks is to impose, but they have become so insolent today that they are confessing to it themselves.”


“The U.S. pursues a policy of maximum pressure on Iran through various embargoes, intimidation, and distorted claims, because the current U.S. government believes that the Islamic Republic cannot be brought to its knees, humiliated, and made to submit, through any indirect approach.”

“Their goal of pursuing negotiation is to prove to everyone that maximum pressure has been effective, and the Islamic Republic officials were forced to sit at the negotiating table despite claiming that they would not negotiate. Thus, the only way of dealing with Iran is through maximum pressure.”

“If the enemy succeeds in proving that maximum pressure is the only effective way of dealing with Iran, then Iran and our dear nation will never be left in peace. Because, this policy will become the default basis of every other oppressive policy of the U.S., and after that every time they make a new outrageous demand to the Islamic Republic, we would either have to accept and be done with it or say no and be subjected to maximum pressure anew.”

“I will, of course, speak about the Europeans at another time, but they are insisting that a meeting with the U.S. President would solve all our problems, because they want to prove that the maximum pressure policy has been effective in dealing with Iran, and this policy must be pursued.”

“In return, we must prove that the maximum pressure policy has absolutely no value in the eyes of the Iranian nation.”

“It is for this reason that the country's officials, from the President to the Foreign minister and others, have unanimously announced that we would not take part in talks, be it bilateral or multilateral, with the United States.”

—Sept. 17, 2019, in remarks to seminary students


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Abbas Mousavi

“We have neither planned for this meeting [between President Rouhani and President Trump], nor do I think such a thing would happen in New York.”

“This meeting will not happen.”

“As we have stated before, if the Americans return to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and cease their economic terrorism, they can return to the joint commission and talk.”

—Sept. 16, 2019, in remarks to the press