The New York Times has evaluated the significance of statements made this weekend by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, especially as they relate the possibility that Western overtures for new talks may prove successful:
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threw some cold water on recent efforts to reinvigorate diplomatic contacts between Iran and the United States, saying he was not optimistic that any agreement would be reached, though he does not oppose talks “on certain issues.”
At a meeting on Sunday with the departing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet, Mr. Khamenei said that he did not believe that direct talks with the United States would have a positive result for Iran. “The Americans are unreliable and illogical, and are not honest in their approach,” Mr. Khamenei warned, adding that his view was based on previous talks with the United States, often conducted secretly, on issues like Iraq.
Gesturing toward statements made by President-elect Hassan Rouhani promising outreach to the international community, Khamenei went further and stipulated that Iran would not modify its policies as a result of talks. The Supreme Leader, who controls Iran’s foreign policy, had already preemptively banned presidential candidates in the June election from making concessions to the West should they win.
The Times story outlining Iranian intransigence comes two days after the outlet published an editorial encouraging engagement with Iran and criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for skepticism regarding Iranian intentions:
The closer the world gets to serious diplomatic engagement with Iran on its nuclear program, the more hard-liners in Washington and abroad will push military action if the effort fails. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, for one, has tried to goad the Obama administration to show Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s newly elected president, that “the military option which is on the table is truly on the table.”
The Times op-ed did not mention Khamenei.
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