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Attacking US ‘Avarice,’ Iranian Supreme Leader Claims Vienna Talks on Revived Nuclear Deal Are ‘Going Well’

avatar by Ben Cohen

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran has successfully “resisted” the “excessive demands” made by US negotiators at talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, the Tehran regime’s supreme leader stated on Tuesday.

“So far, our negotiating team has been resisting the excessive demands of the other side, and this trend will continue, God willing,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a meeting of Iranian regime officials.

Khamenei said that the talks were “going well,” appearing to position this comment as praise for the tough stance of Iranian negotiators rather than confidence that an agreement will be reached.

“The nuclear talks are going well and the team of negotiators inform the President, the Supreme National Security Council and others. They make decisions and move forward. Our team of negotiators has so far resisted the other side’s avarice and they will continue doing so, God willing,” Khamenei said.

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Khamenei also suggested that the US was deeply concerned that the talks would fail. “The other side broke its promise and left the JCPOA,” he said, referring to former President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA) — the technical name for the 2015 deal.

“It now feels desperate and has found itself in a stalemate,” Khamenei added.

Khamenei emphasized that officials serving the regime should carry out their duties irrespective of progress at the Vienna talks. “It shouldn’t be that if the talks have positive, somewhat positive or negative results, it hinders your work,” he said. “Continue your work.”

Khamenei’s comments coincided with a continuing dispute over whether the US will lift its designation of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden had rejected the Iranian demand, which is seen as the last major obstacle to a revived nuclear deal.

“The onus is on Iran as to whether we have a nuclear deal,” an unnamed source told Post columnist David Ignatius. “The president will stick to core principles. The Iranians know our views.”

In a television interview over a week ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that he was “not overly optimistic at the prospects of actually getting an agreement to conclusion, despite [the] efforts we’ve put into it.” In the intervening period, Iran has seemed determined to further antagonize the US, announcing sanctions against 24 senior American officials last Saturday, among them the former US Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey, and the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Scott Miller. On Sunday, meanwhile, the Iranian parliament voted in favor of new conditions for a revived nuclear agreement, including legal guarantees that the US would not again quit the deal.

Other senior US officials have spoken out publicly against removing the IRGC’s terror designation. Addressing the US Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he believed the IRGC was a terrorist organization “and I do not support them being delisted.”

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