Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a sermon in 2009. (AP Photo/Hayat News Agency, Meisam Hosseini.)
Things are looking up a little on the Iran front, even though talks in Tehran between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ended without a deal. Before the talks, Iran had suggested it might be ready to meet the IAEA’s demand to visit an off-limits site called Parchin, though that didn’t happen. On February 26, talks between Iran and the world powers, including the United States, are scheduled in Kazakhstan. There, too, a breakthrough isn’t likely, for two reasons. First, the United States does not seem prepared, yet, to take the two steps that it must in talks, namely, to acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium on its own soil and to offer to relax economic sanctions on Iran as part of a deal. And Iran, caught up in the early days of what promises to be a lively if not tumultuous presidential campaign leading to elections in June, may not be ready to make any sort of deal with the Great Satan.
Still, Iran is taking steps to ease tensions, including processing 20-percent-enriched uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor, which makes the uranium unsuitable for weapons production.
So it’s useful to take a look at an important speech delivered recently by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, thanks to a text provided by Iran’s Mission to the United Nations.
Speaking to an assembly of Iran’s air force, Khamenei accused the United States of trying to dominate Iran and its region, a not unreasonable conclusion given twin US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a vast military presence in the Persian Gulf and across the region. Said Khamenei, accurately enough:
For more than thirty years, the enemies of the Iranian nation have done everything in their power to harm the Iranian nation. There is not a thing which they have not used against the Iranian nation. They provoked conflicts, waged wars, supported the enemy of the Islamic Republic with all their power and they waged hard and soft wars.… They made use of everything they could. They hatched plots, launched coup d’états, provoked military conflicts, shot down passenger airliners, imposed heavy sanctions and increased them on a daily basis.
And, of course, President Obama launched a major cyberwar offensive against Iran which, had it been done it reverse, would have been branded an act of war, not to mention what appears to be a US and Israeli campaign to assassinate Iranian scientists.
On the topic of negotiations, Khamenei was widely reported to have closed the door. But here is what he actually said:
Now the Americans have raised the issue of negotiations again. They repeat that America is prepared to directly negotiate with Iran. This is not new. The Americans have repeatedly raised the issue of negotiations at every juncture. Now their newly appointed politicians repeat that we should negotiate. And they say that the ball is in Iran’s court.