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Khamenei Rules Out Negotiations With US, Says Trump Seeks Personal Gain

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses nation in a live TV speech on the occasion of Eid al-Adha in Tehran, July 31, 2020
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses nation in a live TV speech on the occasion of Eid al-Adha in Tehran, July 31, 2020

The Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has once again ruled out negotiations with the United States and accused U.S. President Donald Trump of suggesting talks with Iran for personal gain.

In a televised speech on the occasion of Eid al-Adha on Friday 31 July, Khamenei referred to the United States' negotiations with North Korea and said the U.S. Government used that opportunity for propaganda purpose.

He acknowledged that "U.S. sanctions have undoubtedly created problems for Iran" and that "Iran can sell very little oil" as a result. Nevertheless, he claimed that this has reduced the Iranian economy's dependence on oil.

The comment came one day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the United Nations Security Council members of UN sanctions snapback if the UNSC ends the arms embargo against Iran in October, as called for by the 2015 nuclear deal also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Russia and China oppose the U.S. proposal to extend the arms embargo to stop Iran's destabilising activities in the Middle East. Last week, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook also said that ending the arms embargo against Iran will intensify Iran's military intervention in the region.

Pompeo argued that the return of U.S. sanctions against Iran since 2018 has reduced Iran's vital oil revenue by 90 percent. He added that Iran spends its oil income to spread terrorism and further its "illegal nuclear program." Pompeo promised that the US pressure on Iran will continue with the objective of affecting Iran's "terror network."

In his speech on Friday, Khamenei reiterated that "nuclear power" is what Iran needs. He added that that the United States wishes to negotiate with Iran to encourage it "to give up its defensive and regional power but this is unacceptable."

Khamenei also criticized Europe's behavior as Iran's partner in the JCPOA after the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018. He said "Europeans did nothing" after the U.S. pull-out.

He characterized INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges), the European financial mechanism to help Iran, as "nonsense" adding that it was both "wrong and harmful." Nevertheless, he added that the Europeans even did not try to use INSTEX to help Iran.

France, Germany and the UK launched INSTEX on January 31, 2019 to facilitate trade with Iran despite US sanctions. Some other European countries also joined the mechanism later. However, Khamenei lashed out at the initiative, saying that the Europeans wanted to use the money various countries owed to Iran in order to sell things to Iran without asking Iran about its needs.

The German Foreign Ministry announced in April that Iran had used INSTEX for the first time in March to purchase medical equipment from Europe. Nevertheless, Iranian officials say the mechanism is not efficient enough.

Elsewhere in his remarks on Friday, Khamenei claimed that U.S. sanctions have led to a scientific flourishing in Iran. As a proof for this statement he said Iran has developed an Iranian jet aircraft named Kowsar. Experts, however, have pointed out that the aircraft is an upgraded version of U.S. F-5 fighters that date back to the 1970s and acquired by the pro-West monarchy.

He also spoke about recent unrest in Portland and said: "The U.S. government may be able to suppress the current popular protests in various states, but they will remain like a fire under ashes. They will not be eliminated and will flare up again. They will bring the U.S. political system down."

Khamenei added: "The U.S. government needs to create enemies in order to further its goals. Sometimes they introduce Iran as the enemy, sometimes China, sometimes Russia. But the U.S. establishment’s biggest enemy is the American people, and they will eventually bring down the current US system."

Later, probably alluding to China and Russia, he said Iran should seek help from its friends. However, he did not elaborate.

At the end of his speech on Friday, Khamenei contradicted President Hassan Rouhani's remarks about going ahead with Muharram religious rituals regardless of the health risks involved, and said he would defer to the medical experts' attestation on the matter. Medical experts have said during past weeks that busy gatherings in the month of Muharram may lead to a new surge in the spread of COVID-19 in Iran.