Iran’s top leader on Wednesday rejected any future talks or normalization with the United States, despite growing talk of detente with the West.
In the wake of the nuclear deal reached with world powers in July, some Iranian leaders, including the country’s president Hassan Rouhani, have suggested Iran and the US could cooperate on other issues, including the Syrian conflict in which both nations’ militaries are engaged.
But Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered a ban on any new talks or cooperation with the US, Reuters reports.
“Negotiations with the United States open gates to their economic, cultural, political and security influence. Even during the nuclear negotiations they tried to harm our national interests,” Khamenei reportedly said in an address to Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy commanders, according to his official website.
“Our negotiators were vigilant but the Americans took advantage of a few chances,” he added.
While the nuclear deal, according to which Iran agrees to curbs its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, cannot move forward without Khamenei’s agreement, he has avoided openly endorsing the agreement, and railed repeatedly in the weeks since it was reached against the United States, the West and Israel.
“Through negotiations, Americans seek to influence Iran…but there are naive people in Iran who don’t understand this,” he told the IRGC officers.
“We are in a critical situation now as the enemies are trying to change the mentality of our officials and our people on the revolution and our national interests,” Khamenei said, an apparent reference to those in the West — and in Iran — who hope for a thawing of relations.
According to Reuters, his comments may be seen as encouraging lawmakers in Tehran who have demanded the impeachment of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif over his handshake with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month.
In a signal that even among the nuclear deal’s champions and key negotiators, the perception of any movement toward closeness with the US can be politically damaging, Zarif called the handshake “an accident” that has “cost me at home” in a Tuesday interview with The New Yorker.