A aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday dismissed remarks by British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond that Tehran has changed its stance on Israel, insisting that fighting the “illegal Zionist regime” is an ongoing policy of the Islamic Republic, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
“[The] fight against the illegal Zionist regime is one of the immutable policies of Iran, which has always been maintained,” Seyed Mahmoud Nabavi said.
Hammond was in Iran on Sunday and Monday for the reopening of the British embassy in Tehran, and said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had indicated a “more nuanced approach” to Israel’s existence. Hammond said Khamenei’s “revolutionary sloganizing” should be distinguished from “what Iran actually does in the conduct of its foreign policy.”
Nabavi said Hammond’s comments were “incorrect since one of the driving goals of the Islamic Revolution has been campaign against the arrogant powers,” according to Fars.
“We haven’t recognized the Zionist regime since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution and such a policy will continue,” Nabavi said.
This is the third time this week that a senior Iranian official has repudiated Hammond’s claims of a shift in stance on Israel. The Iranian Foreign Ministry also dismissed the remarks, saying that Israel “had no place in diplomatic talks between Tehran and London,” Fars reported.
“We have rejected such media hype (before) and during Mr. Hammond’s trip to Iran, we just discussed potentials of bilateral relations, fighting extremism and terrorism, etc.,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday.
“There were no talks on the Zionist regime and the report that Iran has changed its position is denied,” she said.
On Tuesday, Hussein Sheikholeslam, a foreign affairs adviser to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, said that Israel “should be annihilated,” and that the thawing relations with the West would not translate into a shift in Tehran’s position on the Jewish state.
Sheikholeslam told Iranian media that contrary to remarks by Hammond, “Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan.”