In a speech yesterday before Iranian air force commanders, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the idea of a political framework, which both Iran and the P5+1 nations agreed to when they extended the Joint Plan of Action this past November.
According to a translation of Khamenei’s speech he said:
I do not favor remarks that we should agree on some principles and later on details. I dislike it when they say that there should be a deal on general principles at one stage and then we can talk about details. Given our experience with the other side, they will use this as a tool for repeatedly making excuses regarding details. If they want a deal, they should cover both generalities and details in a single session, instead of leaving details for later and separating generalities which are vague and leave room for different interpretations. This is not logical.
And everything to be signed between our statesmen and the other side must be clear and transparent and no room should be left for different interpretations. It should not allow the other side which moves forward by means of excuses, to make things harder and refer to excuses for various issues. No, these are all meant for taking away the weapon of sanctions from the hands of the enemy. It is good if they can do this. However, the sanctions must literally be taken away from the hands of the enemy. The sanctions must be lifted. This kind of a deal [is favored]. Otherwise, if they achieve no success in this regard, the Iranian nation, statesmen, the honourable government and others have numerous ways and they must certainly take this path in order to nullify the weapon of sanctions.
An analysis in The Wall Street Journal observes:
Mr. Khamenei seems to oppose a procedure already agreed to by the two sides, which is to conclude an understanding of general principles by March 24 and to finalize details of a deal by the end of June. “If an agreement is reached,” he said, “it must be concluded in one go and must encompass both general principles and details.” Agreement on only principles would allow the Americans to raise “one objection after another” over details, he said, describing this as usual practice by the U.S.
Khamenei also focused the “removal of sanctions” as a primary goal of the negotiations. United Nations Security Council sanctions were put into place due to Iran’s violation of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations. Khamenei has offered no indication that Iran will come into compliance with its obligations and, in fact, his regime has insisted that Iran has the non-existent “right” to enrich uranium.
Iran’s Foreign Minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was quoted echoing Khamenei’s hard line on sanctions in a report in The New York Times yesterday, stating, “sanctions are a liability; you need to get rid of them if you want a solution.”
The Times also cited an expert who observed that Iranian expectations of a total removal of sanctions are possibly misplaced.
But Ray Takeyh, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments suggested he might have unrealistic expectations on how fast sanctions would be lifted. The United States and its partners have favored a phased approach in which sanctions would be removed as Iran took steps to carry out the accord over a period of years.
[Photo: Manuchehr Lenziran / YouTube ]