Khamenei says Iran should give up hope of European help against U.S. sanctions

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday European countries were unlikely to help Iran against U.S. sanctions, and Tehran “should give up all hope” in that regard, according to his official website.

Britain, France and Germany, parties to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, have tried to set up a trade mechanism to barter humanitarian and food goods with Iran after the United States withdrew from the deal last year and re-imposed sanctions. But the mechanism is still not operational.

Iran has repeatedly said it will ramp up its nuclear activities unless the European countries do more to protect its economy from the impact of the U.S. sanctions.

“Despite their promises, the Europeans have practically adhered to America’s sanctions and have not taken any action and are unlikely to do anything for the Islamic Republic in the future. So one should give up all hope on Europeans,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.

“There should be no trust in countries that have held the banner of hostility to (Iran’s) Islamic system, led by the United States and some European countries, because they are openly hostile to the Iranian people,” Khamenei said.

“The road to interaction and negotiations is open to all countries other than America and the Zionist regime (Israel),” Khamenei told members of a powerful clerical body.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by John Stonestreet and Peter Graff)

Iran’s Khamenei rejects talks with United States

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran will never hold one-on-one talks with the United States but could engage in multilateral discussions if it returns to the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, according to state television.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, possibly at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later this month.

“Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American officials … this is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran … their policy of maximum pressure will fail,” state television quoted Khamenei as saying.

Khamenei said Iran’s clerical rulers were in agreement on this: “All officials in Iran unanimously believe it.

“If America changes its behavior and returns to (Iran’s 2015) nuclear deal, then it can join multilateral talks between Iran and other parties to the deal,” Khamenei said.

Trump has stepped up sanctions against Iran since last year when he withdrew from the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers and reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the deal in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program.

In retaliation for the U.S. “maximum pressure” policy, Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments to the pact and plans to further breach it if the European parties fail to keep their promises to shield Iran’s economy from U.S. penalties.

“If we yield to their pressure and hold talks with Americans … This will show that their maximum pressure on Iran has succeeded. They should know that this policy has no value for us,” said Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have spiked following a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that sent oil prices soaring and raised fears of a new Middle East conflict.

Trump said on Monday it looked like Iran was behind the attacks but stressed he did not want to go to war. Iran has denied any involvement.

Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia, said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons and it was capable of responding forcefully.

Saudi Arabia urged U.N. experts to help investigate the raid.

(Additional reporting by Asma Alsharif; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Robert Birsel)

Trump threatens “obliteration” as Iran slams sanctions on Khamenei

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves his hand as he arrives to deliver a speech during a ceremony marking the 30th death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, Iran June 4, 2019. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if the Islamic Republic attacked “anything American”, as Iran said the latest U.S. sanctions had closed off any chance of diplomacy.

“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force,” Trump tweeted just days the United States came within minutes of bombing Iranian targets.

“In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,” the U.S. president tweeted.

Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures. Sanctions against Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are expected later this week.

“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted.

“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

The moves came after Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week and Trump called off a retaliatory air strike minutes before impact. It would have been the first time the United States had bombed Iran in decades of hostility between them.

Trump said last week that he had decided at the last minute that too many people would die.

In a televised address on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said sanctions against Khamenei would have no practical impact because the cleric had no assets abroad.

Rouhani, a pragmatist who won two elections on promises to open Iran up to the world, described the U.S. moves as desperate and called the White House “mentally retarded” – an insult that other Iranian officials have used in the past about Trump, but a departure from Rouhani’s own comparatively measured tone.

Rouhani and his cabinet run Iran’s day-to-day affairs, while Khamenei, in power since 1989, is Iran’s ultimate authority.

“The White House actions mean it is mentally retarded,” Rouhani said. “Tehran’s strategic patience does not mean we have fear.”

U.S. SANCTIONS

The United States has imposed crippling economic sanctions against Iran since last year, when Trump withdrew from an agreement between Tehran and world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

The crisis has escalated sharply since last month, when the Trump administration tightened the sanctions, ordering all countries to halt purchases of Iranian oil.

That has effectively starved the Iranian economy of the main source of revenue Tehran uses to import food for its 81 million people, and left Iran’s pragmatic faction with no benefits to show for its nuclear agreement.

Washington says the 2015 agreement reached under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama did not go far enough because it is not permanent and does not cover issues beyond the nuclear program, such as missiles and regional behavior.

Iran says there is no point negotiating with Washington when it has abandoned a deal that was already reached.

The downing of the U.S. drone – which Iran says was over its air space and the United States says was international skies – followed weeks of rising tensions that had begun to take on a military dimension.

The United States and some regional allies have blamed Iran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf, which Tehran denies. Washington’s European allies have repeatedly warned both sides of the danger that a small mistake could lead to war.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; Writing by Peter Graff and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Iran supreme leader says he has no intention to make or use nuclear weapons

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran, Iran June 13, 2019. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – Iran has no intention of making or using nuclear weapons, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying on Thursday by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Khamenei’s comment, a reiteration of Iran’s stance, comes at a time of increased U.S.-Iranian tension, a year after Washington abandoned an agreement between Iran and world powers to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international financial sanctions.

“Supreme Leader Khamenei made a comment that the country will not and should not make, hold or use nuclear weapons, and that it has no such intentions,” Abe told reporters in Tehran following a meeting with Khamenei.

“Today, I met Supreme Leader Khamenei and heard his belief in peace. I regard this highly as a major progress toward this region’s peace and stability,” said Abe, the first-ever Japanese prime minister to hold talks with Khamenei.

Abe’s comment was broadcast on Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

On Wednesday, Abe warned of unintended clashes in the crisis-hit Middle East after meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Abe was visiting Iran to help ease rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic.

Japan is in a unique position to act as a mediator as the U.S. ally has long maintained close ties with Iran.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Iran youth will witness demise of Israel, ‘American civilization’: Khamenei

GENEVA (Reuters) – Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilization, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in comments published on his official website.

“You young people should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel,” Khamenei said in a meeting with students.

He gave no further details.

Tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what U.S. officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.

Khamenei said last week that there would be no war with the United States.

Separately, Khamenei distanced himself from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in his comments on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed sanctions, saying the accord did not address the Islamic Republic’s missile program and what he saw as their malign influence in the region.

“The way (the nuclear deal) was put into action, I didn’t have much faith (in it),” Khamenei, who is the highest authority in Iran, said. “And we repeatedly told the president and the foreign minister and gave them notice.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been the main advocates of the nuclear deal within Iran’s political system.

Two weeks ago, Iran notified the remaining signatories to the deal – China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom – that it would halt some commitments under the nuclear deal, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord.

 

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Khamenei says curbing Iran’s missile program a ‘dream that will never come true’

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran September 14, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran’s top leader said on Monday it would respond harshly to any attack and that Western demands for limits on its ballistic missile program are a “dream that will never come true”.

Tensions between Iran and the West have resurged since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, calling it deeply flawed.

European signatories are scrambling to save the accord, which they see as crucial to forestalling an Iranian nuclear weapons, by protecting trade with Iran against the reimposition of U.S. sanctions to dissuade Tehran from quitting the deal.

Under the deal, the Islamic Republic curbed its disputed nuclear energy program and in return won a lifting of most international sanctions that had hobbled its economy.

One of Trump’s demands – which European allies back in principle – is negotiations to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile program, which was not covered by the nuclear deal.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again said this was non-negotiable. “Some Europeans are talking about limiting our defensive missile program. I am telling the Europeans, ‘Limiting our missile work is a dream that will never come true,” he said in a televised speech.

Trump also objected that the 2015 deal did not address Iran’s nuclear work beyond 2025 or its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria. Though committed to the deal, European powers share Trump’s concerns and want broader talks with Iran to address the issues.

“Our enemies have staged economic and psychological … warfare against us and new American sanctions are part of it,” Khamenei told a gathering to mark the 29th anniversary of the death of Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“Tehran will attack 10 times more if attacked by enemies … The enemies don’t want an independent Iran in the region … We will continue our support for oppressed nations,” he said.

Khamenei said Iran had no intention of curbing its influence in the Middle East and urged Arab youth to stand up to U.S. pressure.

“Young Arabs, you should take action and the initiative to control your own future … Some regional countries act like their own people’s enemies,” he said in an allusion to U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states who have supported rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Tehran.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Iran displays missile, thousands march in marking 1979 U.S. embassy takeover

Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

By Babak Dehghanpisheh

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iran put a ballistic missile on display as thousands marched on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy, with a senior official accusing President Donald Trump of a “crazy” return to confrontation with Tehran.

Turnout for the annual Iranian street rallies commemorating the embassy takeover, a pivotal event of the Islamic Revolution, appeared higher than in recent years when Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama pursued detente with Tehran.

Last month, Trump broke ranks with European allies, Russia and China by refusing to re-certify Iran’s compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, reached during Obama’s tenure. Under that deal, most international sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing nuclear activity seen to pose a risk of being put to developing atomic bombs.

Iran has reaffirmed its commitment to the deal and U.N. inspectors have verified Tehran is complying with its terms, but Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened to “shred” the pact if the United States pulls out.

“All the governments confirm that the American president is a crazy individual who is taking others toward the direction of suicide,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told a rally in Tehran, state media reported.

“Trump’s policies against the people of Iran have brought them out into the streets today,” Shamkhani said.

He did not identify the governments he had in mind. The other parties to the nuclear deal – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – have voiced disquiet at Trump’s opposition to it, fearing this could stir new Middle East instability.

But the Europeans share U.S. concern over Iran’s ballistic missile program and “destabilizing” regional behavior.

 

NOT NEGOTIABLE

Senior Iranian officials have repeatedly said that the Islamic Republic’s missile program is solely defensive in nature and is not negotiable.

In a sign of defiance, a Ghadr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) was put on display near the ex-U.S. embassy in Tehran, now a cultural center, during Saturday’s street demonstration, Tasnim news agency said.

“That America thinks Iran is going to put aside its military power is a childish dream,” said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of its elite Revolutionary Guards which oversees the missile development, according to Tasnim.

Fars news agency posted pictures of demonstrators nearby burning an effigy of Trump and holding up signs saying “Death to America”.

Iran and the United States severed diplomatic relations soon after the 1979 revolution, during which hardline students seized the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Shamkhani spoke a few days after Khamenei said the United States was the “number one enemy” of the Islamic Republic.

U.S.-Iranian tensions have risen anew at a time when Tehran has been improving political and military ties with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran on Wednesday. Khamenei told him that Tehran and Moscow must step up cooperation to isolate the United States and help defuse conflict in the Middle East.

Iran and Russia are both fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al Assad against rebels, some of them U.S.-backed, and Islamist militants trying to overthrow him.

 

(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

Supreme Leader Khamenei says U.S. is Iran’s ‘number one enemy’

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves as he arrives to deliver a speech in Tehran, Iran, November 2, 2017. Leader.ir/Handout via REUTERS

By Parisa Hafezi

ANKARA (Reuters) – The United States is Iran’s “number one enemy” and Tehran will never succumb to Washington’s pressure over a multinational nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump broke ranks with other major powers last month by refusing to formally certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Under that deal, most sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear work.

“The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation,” Iran’s top authority Khamenei told a group of students.

“America is the number one enemy of our nation.”

Since the deal was reached in 2015, Khamenei has continued to denounce the United States publicly, suggesting that antagonism between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran would not abate because of the accord.

Iran and the United States severed diplomatic ties shortly after the revolution, when hardline students took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Iran will mark the anniversary of the American embassy seizure on Saturday.

Trump has called the nuclear agreement, which was reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, “the worst deal ever negotiated” and has adopted a harsh approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Washington has imposed new sanctions on Iran over its missile activity, calling on Tehran not to develop missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs. Iran says it has no such plans and its missile program is solely for defense purposes.

The deal’s other signatories, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, and the European Union say Washington cannot unilaterally cancel an international accord enshrined by a U.N. resolution.

Iranian officials have repeatedly said that Tehran would stick to the nuclear accord as long as the other signatories respected it. But it has warned about the consequences if the deal falls apart.

“We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal … Americans are using all the wickedness to damage the result of the nuclear talks,” Khamenei said to chants of “Death to America” by students.

“Any retreat by Iran will make America more blatant and impudent … Resistance is the only option.”

Trump also accuses Iran of supporting terrorism in the Middle East. Iran rejects that and in turn blames the growth of militant groups such as Islamic State on the policies of the United States and its regional allies.

Shi’ite-dominated Iran and its regional arch-rival, U.S.-backed Sunni Saudi Arabia, are involved in proxy wars across the region, backing opposite sides in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

 

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Catherine Evans)

 

Iran’s Ahmadinejad defies supreme leader to attempt comeback

Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he submits his name for registration as a candidate in Iran's presidential election, in Tehran, Iran April 12, 2017.

By Parisa Hafezi

ANKARA (Reuters) – Hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad surprised Iran’s clerical establishment by registering for the May 19 presidential election, defying the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader’s warning not to enter the race.

Vilified in the West for his barbs against America and Israel and questioning of the Holocaust, the blacksmith’s son Ahmadinejad has upset predictions before by stealing the show in 2005 when he defeated powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in a run-off vote.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei revealed last year that he had recommended to Ahmadinejad not to enter the contest. But after his registration on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad told journalists that Khamenei’s recommendation was “just advice”, Iranian media reported.

Khamenei praised Ahmadinejad as “courageous, wise and hard-working” after his re-election in 2009, which ignited an eight-month firestorm of street protests. His pro-reform rivals said that vote was rigged.

But throughout Ahmadinejad’s presidency, Khamenei was wary of him, and his insubordination and relentless self-aggrandisement rankled the hardline clergy.

Ahmadjinejad was required to step down because of term limit rules in 2013, when President Hassan Rouhani won in a landslide on a promise to reduce Iran’s international isolation.

After a term out of office, Ahmadinejad is now permitted to stand again under Iran’s constitution, but he still needs the approval of the 12-member Guardian Council which vets candidates, six members of which are appointed by Khamenei.

“His disqualification by the Guardian Council would show that the council is not independent and follows the orders of the supreme leader,” said political analyst Saeed Leylaz.

Khamenei’s backers accuse Ahmadinejad’s camp of pursuing an “Iranian” school of Islam, viewed as an inappropriate mix of religion and nationalism. Ahmadinejad may pay the price for disobeying Khamenei by running for president, analysts said.

“Khamenei will not forget this move, which was aimed to harm his image,” said political analyst Hamid Farahvashian.

In 2011, Khamenei was so annoyed by Ahmadinejad’s hunger for more power that he floated a proposal to change Iran’s constitution to do away with a directly elected presidency altogether, an idea Ahmadinejad briskly dismissed as “academic”.

“AN AFFRONT TO KHAMENEI”

Khamenei ultimately calls the shots in Iran, where the president can only influence policy, not decide it.

A former officer of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Ahmadinejad relies on Iran’s devout poor, who felt neglected by past governments and helped sweep him to power in 2005. However, his popularity in Iran remains in question.

“Ahmadinejad’s faction is still alive. He enjoys the support of the poor and lower-income in the cities,” said Leylaz.

Rouhani and his allies have criticized Ahmadinejad’s free-spending policies for fueling inflation and accuse him of wasting Iran’s oil revenues.

Ahmadinejad’s critics say his fiery anti-Western talk helped isolate Iran diplomatically. During his term, the U.N. Security Council imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Rouhani, who engineered Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that secured a removal of international financial and trade sanctions against Tehran, is expected to seek re-election.

Although Rouhani won in a single round with more than 50 percent of the vote four years ago when no other candidate won more than 17 percent, he could face a more difficult campaign this time if hardliners unite against him. Many Iranians have grown impatient with the slow rate of improvement in their economic fortunes since the lifting of sanctions last year.

In a move to widen Ahmadinejad’s support, his senior aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie in May sent a conciliatory letter to Ahmadinejad’s predecessor as president, Mohammad Khatami, seen as the father of Iran’s reform movement.

Insiders said if disqualified, Ahmadinejad is likely to call on his supporters to back Rouhani, whose main rival is likely to be influential hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who declared his candidacy on Sunday.

“The irony is that by spoiling the conservatives’ game and taking away from Raisi’s voter-base, Ahmadinejad is in fact aiding Rouhani’s re-election,” said senior Iran analyst Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group.

Raisi, 57, heads Astan Qods Razavi, an organization in charge of a multibillion-dollar religious foundation that manages donations to Iran’s holiest Shi’ite Muslim shrine in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

“Ahmadinejad knows full well that his candidacy is an affront to Khamenei who had publicly barred him from running,” said Vaez. “Disqualifying Ahmadinejad is hard, but not impossible.”

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Peter Graff)