On April 14, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spurned the initial ideas to get the United States and Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. “The suggestions they make are often arrogant and degrading, thus they aren’t even worth looking at,” he said a day before diplomatic talks in Vienna between the parties were set to resume. Khamenei warned Iran's diplomats not to let the negotiations drag out. “It should not reach a point where the other signatories wish to keep drawing it out, because that would be detrimental to the country," he said.
On April 6 and April 9, Iran and the United States attended indirect talks in Vienna that have included – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – the other five participants in the nuclear deal. Two expert working groups were formed. One focused on the timetable for the United States to lift sanctions on Iran. The other focused on how Iran would reverse its breaches of the nuclear deal. But Khamenei appeared to reject an incremental or simultaneous return to the deal. "Sanctions must be removed first," he said. "Once we are certain that has been done, we will carry out our commitments."
The crisis over the nuclear deal emerged after President Donald Trump abandoned the accord in May 2018 and reimposed punitive economic sanctions that had been lifted by the deal. Iran continued to comply with its obligations for more than a year. But in July 2019, it began breaching the limits on its nuclear program imposed by the agreement. Iran’s breaches – on enriching uranium and installing more advanced centrifuges -- were incremental and calibrated until the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top nuclear scientist, in November 2020. Tehran then began enriching uranium up to 20 percent – up from 3.67 percent allowed under the deal – which also shortened the breakout time to build a nuclear weapon from one year down to around three months. The following are remarks Khamenei made in a televised address on the first day of Ramadan.
Speech by Khamenei on April 14: "We have already declared Iran's policy. Sanctions must be removed first. Once we are certain that has been done, we will carry out our commitments. This is because they have broken their promises tens of times, and it is the same now."
"Our officials must be careful that the negotiations do not become draining. It should not reach a point where the other signatories wish to keep drawing it out, because that would be detrimental to the country."
"The U.S. is not after accepting the truth through negotiations. Rather, it seeks to impose its false words. The Europeans have also confessed in some private meetings with our officials that Iran is in the right, and they acknowledge our policy that sanctions must be removed first."
"Nevertheless, when it comes to making decisions, the same Europeans follow the U.S. Because they don’t have any true independence and the U.S. is an aggressor too. The suggestions they make are often arrogant and degrading, thus they aren’t even worth looking at."
"We are hopeful the officials will move forward on this matter with their eyes fully open, a strong heart, reliance on God, and remembering that 'God is sufficient for us and He is the Best Protector.' God willing, they will enjoy divine success and make the nation happy."