Nuclear talks with Iran were extended for seven months this week amid signs Tehran may be moving closer to making a deal, but the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hasn’t tempered his fiery rhetoric against the US.
In a stream of messages published on his official English-language Twitter account Thursday, Khamenei criticised America for being “ill-mannered” in the nuclear talks. He also invoked the situation in Ferguson, Missouri as proof of the US government “isn’t honest” with its people.
Khamenei’s tweets were a summary of remarks he made on Thursday at the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran where he indicated he was not opposed to continuation of the nuclear talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany). In that speech, Khamenei, who has authorised every step taken by Iran during the talks, indicated he supported an extension “for the same reasons I wasn’t against negotiations.”
According to his tweets, Khamenei then criticised America as “arrogant” and accused US negotiators of being impolite while their Iranian counterparts were “diligent,” “serious,” and “caring.”
Khamenei went on to invoke the situation in Ferguson, where there have been violent protests since a police officer shot an unarmed African-American teenager last August. Those demonstrations ramped up again on Monday after prosecutors announced a grand jury decided not to indict the officer. According to Khamenei, Ferguson is proof Americans “do not trust” the US government. He also suggested the US is only engaging in the negotiations to distract from “domestic problems.”
Khamenei also criticised America’s relationship with Israel, which has been a staunch opponent of any nuclear deal with Iran. He said there is a “Zionist network” that controls the “lifeline” of US officials. Khamenei also suggested “blackmail” by this “Zionist network” dictated how American politicians handled the situation in Ferguson.
Khamenei referenced letters about the talks the Iranian government received from President Barack Obama. That correspondence reportedly had a positive impact on the talks. Khamenei accused the US of using a “different” tone in the private letters than in public remarks.
Khamenei’s tweets concluded with a vow Iran would accept a “fair” nuclear deal, but would not give in to “bullying.”
Analysts have two theories about the inflammatory language Khamenei has used during the nuclear negotiations. While they could indicate Iran will eventually refuse to make a deal, the remarks could also be a sign Khamenei is attempting to build public and official support for an agreement. By publicly attacking the US, Khamenei could be building the impression he did not take a soft stance with Iran’s longtime arch enemy while pursuing the negotiations.
Under the current extension, negotiations will continue until June 30, 2015. During this time, Iran’s nuclear program will remain frozen and the current sanctions on the country will not be lifted.
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