Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday that negotiations with world powers over his country’s nuclear program helped expose US animosity toward Muslims, but Iran was nevertheless prepared to hold talks with the “Satan” when it deemed them advantageous.
His statements came as talks on Iran’s nuclear program resumed to hammer out the details for implementing a recent interim nuclear deal.
During a speech to an audience of thousands in the city of Qom, next to Iran’s fortified Fordo uranium enrichment site, Khamenei expounded on how Tehran views the talks with the West, the official Press TV news website reported.
“One of the blessings of the negotiations was that the animosity of American officials toward Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims was revealed to everyone,” he said and asserted that Iran was not forced into negotiations by the pressure of Western sanctions. Rather, he explained, it was all part of Iran’s strategy for making the best of the situation.
“We have announced previously as well that the Islamic Republic will, on the certain issues that it deems expedient, negotiate with this Satan in order to ward off its evil and resolve the issue,” he added.
Khamenei’s comments came as representatives of Iran and six world powers met in Geneva to discuss the implementation of a nuclear deal signed in November 2013. However, officials said differences could delay the enactment of the agreement.
Before the two-day meeting, European Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijanic said “some issues remain to be resolved,” a statement echoed by Iranian officials.
They gave no details, but two officials said Iran wants to continue enriching uranium to 20 percent at one facility — something opposed by the six powers that signed the deal with Tehran.
The officials were from member countries of the UN nuclear agency. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the closed negotiations.
Uranium at 20 percent can be quickly turned into nuclear weapons-grade material. Iran says it is enriching only to make reactor fuel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.