Iran’s Khamenei: US has taken military action off table

Iran’s Khamenei: US has taken military action off table

Likely reacting to Obama foreign policy address, Iranian leader says strike against nuclear program is not an American priority

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, June 4, 2014. (AFP/HO/Iranian Supreme Leader's website)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, June 4, 2014. (AFP/HO/Iranian Supreme Leader's website)

The US is no longer interested in carrying out military action against Iran, the country’s supreme leader said Wednesday, extollingTehran’s efforts at overcoming years of “trouble making” by arch-foe Washington.

The US has often repeated the refrain that “all options remain on the table” vis-a-vis stymieing Iran’s nuclear program, but speaking in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Washington was no longer considering hitting Iran.

“They realized that military attacks are as dangerous or even more dangerous for the assaulting country as they are for the country attacked,” Khamenei said, according to a New York Times report.

A “military attack is not a priority for Americans now,” he said. “They have renounced the idea of any military actions.”

Khamenei was speaking to a gathering of the country’s leaders to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic.

His remarks were likely in response to a foreign policy address by US President Barack Obama in late May, during which the president said a nuclear deal with Iran was likely and the US was finding diplomacy for effective than military action.

Khamenei, who sets the direction Iran takes, made no mention of a rapprochement, warning officials of what he called American efforts to “sow discord among leaderships” and foment coup d’etats and “color revolutions.”

“The external challenge before Iran is the trouble-making of the global arrogance — frankly speaking, that of the United States,” he said in remarks broadcast live on state television from Khomeini’s shrine, south of Tehran.

Iran and the US have had no diplomatic ties for more than three decades, but hopes of a thaw in relations were raised in November after Tehran and world powers signed an interim nuclear deal that it is hoped can be transformed into a lasting accord in further talks.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Obama had also spoken by telephone months earlier in what was seen as a major gesture of willingness toward future dialogue.

Iran’s domestic challenges include “shifting focus away from the real enemy and on to (internal) disputes and losing national unity.”

He did not elaborate but Iran’s fragmented political factions have clashed in recent months over the course of nuclear negotiations, led by Rouhani who favors detente with the West and solving the decade-long nuclear standoff.

The negotiations will resume in mid-June, with Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — plus Germany, meeting in Vienna.

They seek a comprehensive agreement against the July 20 deadline that would curb Iran’s nuclear activities and increase international monitoring in exchange for the lifting of painful sanctions.

Western powers suspect Iran is masking a military drive in its nuclear work, while Tehran denies ever seeking atomic weapons.

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