Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday accused US President Joe Biden’s administration of making the same demands as his predecessor Donald Trump in talks to revive a nuclear accord.
The multilateral deal that offers Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme was torpedoed by Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from it in 2018.
A last round of negotiations between Iran and the deal’s remaining parties to revive the 2015 accord concluded in June with no resumption in sight.
“America’s current administration is no different from the previous one because what it demands from Iran on the nuclear issue is the same thing that Trump demanded,” Khamenei said in televised remarks.
He said that Biden’s administration wants “the same thing today, it’s no different. (Trump) said it in one way and these (say it) in different words.”
“The Americans truly have no shame on the nuclear issue, and even though they withdrew from the JCPOA… they now talk in a way and make demands as it was (Iran) that withdrew,” he said, quoted by his official website in reference to the deal by its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Khamenei made the remarks in a meeting with President Ebrahim Raisi’s newly formed cabinet, during which he acknowledged public trust in government had been “damaged”.
The ultraconservative Raisi won a June 18 election marred by record low turnout and an absence of significant competitors.
He succeeded the moderate Hassan Rouhani, the architect of the political opening that culminated in the nuclear agreement between Tehran and six major powers.
A year after Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal and impose sanctions on Iran, the Islamic republic retaliated by gradually waiving most of the key nuclear commitments that it had accepted under the agreement.
Six rounds of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers — with the US indirectly taking part — were held in Vienna between April and June.
The last round concluded on June 20, with no date set for another.
“Behind the scenes of America’s foreign policy, there is a predator wolf that sometimes changes to a cunning fox,” Khamenei said.
– ‘Reciprocal response’ –
Khamenei’s remarks came after a senior security official in Tehran said Iran reserves the right to a “reciprocal response” to Washington, after what it deemed as threats by Biden.
Biden received Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House on Friday and said the United States was committed to ensuring “Iran never develops a nuclear weapon”.
“We’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us. But if diplomacy fails we’re ready to turn to other options,” he said.
Biden and Bennett’s “emphasis on using ‘other options’ against #Iran, in addition to being an illegal threat against another country, establishes the Islamic Republic of Iran’s right for a reciprocal response against ‘available options’,” Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, wrote on Twitter.
Bennett, like his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, fiercly opposes the revival of the nuclear deal.
In his speech, Khamenei also called on Raisi to “repair” the public’s damaged trust in government.
“It’s a great asset for a government to be able to attract the people’s trust, which has unfortunately been slightly damaged. You must repair this”.
The way to achieve this was to ensure the “words and actions” of officials become one and to keep promises.
Iran has in recent years been hit by several protests over the economy and living conditions made worse by punishing US sanctions.
The latest was protests over water shortages that erupted in July in southwest Iran, where, according to Iranian media, at least four people were killed.
Human rights groups outside of Iran have previously accused the Islamic republic of using force against protesters.
Iran has denied the charges and blamed violence at protests on “opportunists” and “rioters” linked to its enemies.