Iran leader accuses US of reneging on nuclear deal
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Iran leader accuses US of reneging on nuclear deal

Khamenei says Washington not lifting sanctions despite nice words; dismisses hubbub over missile tests

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei poses for a portrait prior to delivering his message for the Iranian New Year, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP)
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei poses for a portrait prior to delivering his message for the Iranian New Year, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP)

Iran’s supreme leader said Sunday Washington has continued its animosity toward Tehran, despite a friendly message by President Barack Obama marking the Persian New Year.

In a New Year’s speech on Sunday in the northern city of Mashhad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US had not kept to its commitment to lift sanctions as part of a nuclear deal.

“From one hand they send a New Year message and on the other hand they have kept economic sanctions” against Iran. “This is enmity,” he said in the address, which was broadcast on state TV.

Khamenei accused the West of reneging on its commitments in the landmark nuclear deal, maintaining many international companies continue to avoid working with Iran out of fear of the US.

“In the agreement we reached with the Americans on the nuclear issue, the Americans did not deliver on their pledges… Today, all across Western countries and those who are under their impact, our banking restrictions are still facing problems and repatriation of our assets are facing problems,” said Khamenei, according to Press TV.

“The United States is severely working not to allow the deal’s results to become beneficial for the Islamic Republic,” continued Khamenei. He said that, despite the deal, “they have threatened us through other sanctions.”

Obama on Saturday, in his annual video message marking the Persian New Year, said a landmark nuclear deal Iran reached with world powers last year makes it possible for Iran to rejoin the global economy, increase trade and investment, and create jobs and opportunities for Iranians to sell their goods around the world.

Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, said the US has not fulfilled all of its commitments under the deal. “Banking transactions are still facing problems. The return of Iran’s capital from abroad has faced problems. When we investigated, it was found out that they fear the US.”

He also said there is no guarantee that the next US administration will honor all the commitments made by Obama’s administration.

Khamenei dismissed the recent controversy over Iran’s continued testing of ballistic missiles. Earlier this month, the country’s Revolutionary Guards test-fired two missiles emblazoned with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew.

After the launches, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Iran to “act with moderation,” and the US ambassador to the United Nations called them “provocative and destabilizing.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the recent tests could trigger additional sanctions, which Israel has lobbied for.

“What an outcry they raised over our missile issue saying, ‘Why did you test fire? Why did you launch the military exercise?'” Khamenei said.

Tehran and six world powers, including the United States, agreed to the deal in July 2015 when Iran promised to scale down its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of UN and Western sanctions, including on its lifeblood oil exports.

“Every year as president I’ve taken this opportunity, the hope of spring, to speak directly with the people of Iran about how we might open a new window and begin a new relationship with our countries,” Obama said Saturday in a video message to the Iranian people, posted online one day ahead of Nowruz.

“Now, for the first time in decades, there’s a chance for a different future.”

The Nowruz holiday comes just two months after implementation of the deal began.

“The nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all the disputes between our two nations, and the United States continues to have profound differences with the Iranian government,” Obama said.

“But even as our two governments continue to have serious disagreements, the fact that we are now talking to each other on a regular basis, for the first time in decades, gives us an opportunity, a window, to resolve other issues.

“As we do, I firmly believe we can continue to expand the connections between the American and Iranian people,” Obama added.

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