TEHRAN: Iran will not open talks with the United States that will only benefit Donald Trump, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday, insisting the US President’s sanctions policy had failed.
Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have soared in the past year or so, with the sworn enemies twice appearing to come to the brink of war.
The tensions have been building since 2018, when Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed crippling sanctions.
“There is no doubt that sanctions are a crime,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.
“But the smart Iranian has made the best use of this attack, this animosity and benefited… by using sanctions as a means to increase national self-reliance.”
Khamenei said Western “think-tanks admit that the maximum pressure (policy) of sanctions and US force has not succeeded”.
The 2015 deal between Tehran and major powers promised relief from sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear programme.
After abandoning the accord, the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran’s vital oil exports and its access to the international banking system, and pressured allies and rivals alike to fall in line.
Iran has responded by trying to boost its non-oil exports, particularly to neighbouring countries.
“This has caused the country’s economy to be naturally less reliant on oil,” Khamenei said, casting the development in a positive light.
Khamenei condemned calls for Iran to open new talks with the United States, saying he would not agree to meetings that were aimed only at boosting Trump’s re-election hopes.
The 81-year-old even called Trump an “old man”, even though he is seven years older than the US President.
“This old man in charge, he apparently made some propaganda use out of his negotiations with North Korea. Now he wants to use (talks with Iran) for the (November 3 US presidential) election.”
Khamenei said that in return for new talks, the US would demand: “Reduce your defensive capability, destroy your regional power and give up the vital nuclear industry.”
“No logic dictates giving into the aggressor’s demands,” he said.
He also accused European partners to the nuclear deal of “having done nothing” to provide Iran with the economic benefits of the accord and said their barter system designed to bypass US sanctions was a “useless plaything.”
The system, called Instex, is meant to function as a clearing house and allow European companies to deliver medical supplies to Iran without being exposed to sanctions.
European signatories said in March they had delivered medical goods to Iran in the first transaction under Instex, more than a year after the mechanism was announced.