Iran: Khamenei rejects talks with US over missile, nuclear programmes

WION Web Team Tehran, Iran Jul 31, 2020, 04.17 PM(IST)

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wears a protective face mask, during a virtual meeting with lawmakers in Tehran Photograph:( Reuters )

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Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have soared in the past year, with the sworn enemies appearing several times to come to the brink of war.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a live speech on state TV on Friday, ruled out negotiations with the United States over Tehran's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes, calling on Iranians to resist US bullying.

"America's brutal sanctions on Iran are aimed at collapsing our economy ... Their aim is to limit our influence in the region and to halt our missile and nuclear capabilities," Khamenei said.

"Relying on national capabilities and cutting our dependence on oil exports will help us to resist America's pressure."

Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have soared in the past year, with the sworn enemies appearing several times to come to the brink of war.

Also read: To prevent war, Iran must increase its military might: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The tensions have been rising since 2018, when Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed crippling sanctions.

"There is no doubt that sanctions are a crime, a blow from the US to Iran," said supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a televised speech.

"But the smart Iranian has made the best use of this attack, this animosity and benefited... by using sanctions as a means to increase national self-reliance."

Khamenei said Western "think tanks admit that the maximum pressure (policy) of sanctions and US force has not succeeded."

The 2015 deal between Tehran and major powers promised relief from sanctions in return for limits on Iran's nuclear programme. 

After abandoning the agreement, the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran's vital oil exports and its access to the international banking system, and pressured allies and rivals alike to fall in line.

Iran has responded by trying to boost its non-oil exports, particularly to neighbouring countries.

"This has caused the country's economy to be naturally less reliant on oil," Khamenei said, casting the development in a positive light.

Khamenei condemned calls for Iran to open new talks with the United States, saying he would not agree to meetings that were aimed only at boosting Trump's re-election hopes.

On January 3, a US drone strike in Iraq killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. Washington had accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias on US forces in the region.

Iran retaliated for Soleimani's death days after by firing a volley of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq, but Trump opted against responding militarily.

While the attack on the western Iraqi base of Ain al-Asad left no US soldiers dead, dozens suffered brain trauma.

According to Khamenei, Iran was opposed to "whatever may weaken the Iraqi government" in contrast to the US, which he said did not want "an independent, strong Iraqi government elected by popular vote".