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Iran Supreme Leader Cautious On Nuclear Accord

  • RFE/RL

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded that all sanctions be "removed when the deal is signed."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded that all sanctions be "removed when the deal is signed."

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said he neither supports nor opposes a framework deal reached with global powers on Tehran's nuclear program, adding that he will wait till it is finalized.

The cautious words in a televised speech on April 9 marking National Nuclear Technology Day were Khamenei's first public comments on the deal reached in talks between Iran and six global powers in Lausanne on April 2.

Iran and the six powers have set a June 30 deadline to turn the tentative agreement into a final deal that would restrict Iran's nuclear program -- which Western powers fear is aimed at creating nuclear weapons -- in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran says its nuclear program is purely peaceful.

Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, stressed that there "is no binding" agreement yet and that the details of the accord would be decisive.

"I neither support nor oppose" the framework deal, he said. "Everything is in the details; it may be that the deceptive other side wants to restrict us in the details."

He added that the publication of a U.S. fact sheet showing terms that were at variance with the Iranian view of the agreement showed "devilish" U.S. intentions.

Khamenei said an extension of the deadline would not be the end of the world.

He also demanded that all sanctions be "removed when the deal is signed."

Earlier on April 9, President Hassan Rohani said Iran wants international sanctions lifted on the day a final deal is implemented.

"We will not sign any agreements unless on the first day of the implementation of the deal all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the same day," Rohani said.

He added that Tehran wants "win-win talks" that are both in Iran and the world's "best interests."

Insistence on the immediate removal of all sanctions would badly harm the chances for an agreement, because other countries in the talks say the removal of sanctions would be contingent on steps by Iran to ease concerns it could develop nuclear weapons.

The United States has made it clear that sanctions would have to be phased out gradually.

On April 9, the U.S. State Department reiterated this view.

Spokesman Jeff Rathke said that "sanctions would be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments under a finalized joint comprehensive plan of action."

On April 8, Iran accused the world's five nuclear powers of failing to eliminate their stockpiles and called for talks on a treaty aimed at nuclear disarmament by a target date.

Iran's deputy UN ambassador, Gholam Hossein Dehghani, told the UN Conference on Disarmament that the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France had pledged to disarm but had made no progress.

He said that "a comprehensive, binding, irreversible, verifiable" treaty was the best way to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Dehghani said it was therefore necessary to negotiate a timetable for those world powers to get rid of their atomic arms.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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