TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday his country will not negotiate with the United States because America would only use talks for propaganda purposes.
The Trump administration has said it is willing to talk with Iran “with no preconditions,” but that the U.S. will continue its campaign of pressure against the Islamic Republic.
In a televise speech marking the Eid al-Adha holiday, Khamenei said President Donald Trump would benefit from talks, saying Trump wants to “use negotiations with us for propaganda like negotiations with North Korea.” Khamenei was referring to talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong un.
Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear accord between Iran and Western powers in May 2018. Iran later responded by slowly abandoning nearly every aspect of the agreement, though it still allows U.N. inspectors access to its nuclear sites.
Trump has maintained that the deal needs to be renegotiated because it didn’t address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its involvement in regional conflicts. The other signatories to the nuclear deal — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have been struggling to keep it alive.
Khamenei said the U.S. wants Iran to give up its nuclear program, defense facilities and regional authority at the negotiating table.
He said economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. are a crime against Iran. “The sanctions are apparently against Iran’s ruling system, but (in fact) they are against the Iranian people inside.” He said Iranians suffering under the sanctions affecting the economy inevitably would stand up against the ruling system.
A sharp rise in subsidized gasoline prices led to four days of unrest in cities and towns across Iran in November, in which Amnesty International said more than 300 people were killed in clashes with police and security forces.
Tehran has yet to release any official statistics about the scale of the unrest, though in June the government acknowledged that security forces shot and killed protesters. A lawmaker said 230 people were killed in the anti-government protests.