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Iran supreme leader: Sanctions must be lifted, not suspended

Ali Khamenei says Tehran will only partially comply with its commitments if the sanctions aren’t removed entirely

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with university students in Tehran, Iran, July 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with university students in Tehran, Iran, July 2015. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s supreme leader said Thursday that world powers must lift international sanctions and not merely suspend them as part of a landmark nuclear agreement.

Speaking to a group of clerics, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “there will be no deal” if the sanctions are not lifted. His remarks were read by a state TV anchorman.

“We insisted that sanctions ought to be lifted, not suspended,” Khamenei said, according to the Iranian Tasnim news agency.

Khamenei said some US officials have spoken of the “suspension” of the sanctions, which he says is unacceptable. He said Iran will only partially comply with its commitments if the sanctions are merely suspended.

The supreme leader said Tehran had made certain concessions in order to get the sanctions lifted.

“Otherwise, there would be no need for us to take part in the negotiations,” he said, according to Iranian media. “We could continue our work and could increase the number of our centrifuges to 50,000 to 60,000 from the current 19,000 in a short while and continue 20-percent [uranium] enrichment, and speed up research and development.”

Khamenei also ruled out any cooperation with the US-backed coalition fighting the radical Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

“One of the US policies in the region is to annihilate and fully destroy the forces of resistance and fully dominate Syria and Iraq and they expect that the Islamic Republic enter this framework. Such a thing would never transpire,” he said.

“One should not be duped by the enemy as a result of its smile or probable short-term assistance in a certain issue. We should always find out what the enemy’s plotting and scheme are,” he said.

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday secured enough support to prevent the Republican-led Congress from blocking the deal. The agreement would curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

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