In what appeared to be Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s first direct response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent denial of intention to change the regime in Iran, Khamenei said on Wednesday May 29 that Tehran will not negotiate with “European countries and others,” over “the honor of the revolution,” while also denouncing negotiation with America as “harmful.”
Khamenei used a very strong word for honor, “namoos,” which means in Persian, the honor of one’s female family members.
The honor of revolution could mean its most important principles, such as the Iranian version of “Islamic solidarity”; namely establishing its leadership in the region by supporting anti-Western, anti-Israeli groups.
Khamenei said: “The media hype about negotiations” is about “negotiating with America” and not about “returning to negotiations” over Iran’s nuclear issue.
Khamenei who was speaking to a group of academics in Tehran said he has no objection to “negotiating with Europeans and others,” possibly meaning the Japanese, but added: “our problem with such negotiations is about the topics to be discussed.”
According to his official website, Khamenei reiterated: “We will not negotiate about the honor of the revolution. We will not negotiate about our military capabilities”, adding that the other side wants a deal not negotiations. Khamenei’s reference to a deal means reaching an overall understanding or accommodation with the U.S.
What Iran’s Supreme Leader is saying is that we can only talk within the framework of the nuclear deal and no other issue.
This is exactly what the Obama administration did, hoping that the nuclear agreement could later lead to more bridge-building.
But that is exactly what President Donald trump says was wrong with Obama’s Iran policy; not demanding a change of behaviour on Iran’s part.
“They want us to compromise over our military capabilities. There are only two words about such negotiation. They say we want this, and we say No!” Khamenei said.
Then he remembered an anecdote: “Somebody went to ask for someone’s daughter’s hand. And when he came back, he said everything went ahead very well except two things: I said I want your daughter and they said: No way!”
Khamenei stressed that Iran will not negotiate with America as “Not only such a negotiation is not useful, but it is rather harmful.”
Elsewhere in his speech Khamenei said Tehran will use certain tools to confront the mounting U.S. pressures, adding that these tools are not necessarily military. According to Khamenei, suspending the fulfillment of parts of Tehran’s obligation in the nuclear agreement with the West as announced on May 8 was part of Iran’s measures to cope with the pressures.
He said “if you do not use these tools, America might add to its pressures.”
Following Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, the United States has imposed backbreaking sanctions on Iran leading to a fourfold devaluation of the Iranian currency and reducing Iran’s oil export to about 400,000 barrels per day in May. Trump wants a new agreement with Tehran that would also cover limitations on Iran’s missile program and its military intervention in the region.
During recent weeks, following the escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, the Islamic Republic’s leaders have ruled out negotiations with the United States over Iran’s nuclear issue, ballistic missile program and its regional ambitions.
Trump had said on May 27 that Washington is not after regime change in Iran, but it is determined to block Iran’s access to nuclear weapons. Trump added that the U.S. is not planning to do any harm to Iran and that the two sides can reach a new agreement.
Khamenei in his Wednesday’s speech stressed that Iran is not after nuclear weapons, adding that doing so would be against Iranians’ religious beliefs.
Khamenei who has the final say in Iran, insisted last week that “Negotiating with America is like poison, and negotiating with the Trump administration will be doubly poisonous.”
In the meantime several countries, and most recently Japan, have suggested to mediate between Tehran and Washington. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is going to visit Tehran during the next two weeks and hold talks with Khamenei and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.