TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran will not engage in negotiations with the United States "at any level,” and that Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign against the Iranian nation has failed to achieve its goals.
Speaking on Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei said entering talks with the U.S. under the current circumstances would be tantamount to surrendering to Washington's undue pressure campaign. "Negotiating would mean Washington imposing its demands on Tehran. It would also be a manifestation of the victory of America’s maximum pressure campaign,” the Leader noted.
"That is why Iranian officials — including the president, the foreign minister and others — have unanimously voiced their objection to any talks with the U.S. — be it in a bilateral or a multilateral setting,” the Leader stated.
Ayatollah Khamenei said talks with Iran would be possible only if the U.S. returns to a 2015 nuclear deal that it abandoned last year. Under that multilateral accord, Washington had lifted its anti-Iran economic sanctions.
"If the U.S. retracts its words, repents and returns to the nuclear accord that it has violated, it can then take part in sessions of other signatories to the deal and hold talks with Iran… Otherwise, no talks at any level will be held between Iranian and American authorities, neither in New York nor elsewhere."
Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to America’s repeated offers of talk and the contradictory comments by its officials on whether any such negotiations should be held with preconditions.
"Sometimes, they speak of negotiations without preconditions. At other times, they set 12 conditions for the talks. Statements as such are either an outcome of their chaotic policy or a ploy aimed at confusing the opposite side,” the Leader said.
"The Islamic Republic will, of course, not be confused as our path is clear and we know what we are doing,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
The Leader said, "I had already said that America’s objective of [pursuing] talks is to impose [its demands], but they have become so insolent that they even speak about this openly.”
"The U.S. regime is after making its domestic rivals and the Europeans accept this as a definitive policy that maximum pressure is the only way to confront Iran,” added Ayatollah Khamenei. "Their objective in [offering to hold] talks is to prove to everyone that the policy of maximum pressure has yielded results, and that Iranian authorities were forced to come to the negotiating table despite what they said.”
The Leader also noted that the U.S. maximum pressure strategy consists of "a range of sanctions, threats and rants,” which are meant to bring Iran to the negotiating table.
The strategy has, however, failed to bring Iran to its knees, said Ayatollah Khamenei.
"In return, we need to prove that the policy is not worth a penny for the Iranian nation.”
Iran said on Monday President Hassan Rouhani will not meet with Trump at the United Nations, a day after the White House left open the possibility of talks between them.
"Neither is such an event on our agenda, nor will it happen. Such a meeting will not take place,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in remarks carried by state TV.
Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected a meeting and any talks with Washington while Iran is subject to sanctions, which Trump re-imposed after withdrawing last year from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear accords with world powers.
"Stopping all sanctions is an indispensable precondition for constructive diplomacy. We hold meetings when we are sure that our people’s problems can be solved,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, according to the semi-official news agency Tasnim.
"Sanctions must be lifted, and the United States must respect the Iranian nation,” Rabiei said.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump is denying reports that he is willing to meet with Iranian authorities with "no conditions” despite multiple top administration officials saying otherwise.
Trump on Twitter Sunday blamed "The Fake News” for spreading such news, calling the report "an incorrect statement.”
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both told reporters that Trump was willing to talk with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions.
"The president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions," Pompeo told reporters during a press conference alongside Mnuchin when asked about a possible meeting in New York.
Trump suggested easing sanctions against Iran as a means of encouraging Tehran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but the idea did not sit well with Bolton, according to NBC News citing a source familiar with the matter.
Bolton, a well-known Iran hawk, made it clear to the U.S. president during their discussion in the Oval Office last week that he strongly disagreed with the proposal, the source said, adding that he was out as national security adviser the following morning.
Trump announced Bolton’s dismissal in a tweet on Tuesday, saying he had "disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions,” presumably meaning the hawkish politician’s advocacy for regime change in Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran.