Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would not step back from its
nuclear rights, and his negotiating team had set limits for talks over Iran’s
disputed nuclear program.
Khamenei took swipes at Israel and France
during his speech to tens of thousands of volunteer Basij militiamen in Tehran,
broadcast live on Iran’s Press TV.
“Zionist officials cannot be called
humans, they are like animals, some of them,” said Khamenei. “The Israeli regime
is doomed to failure and annihilation,” he said.
The “Zionist regime”
says things that “only bring humiliation on themselves,” he said, adding that it
is a regime that “emerged through force, and no phenomenon that has emerged
through force has continued to exist – and this regime will not continue to
The allegations that Iran poses a threat to the world are
the “words of enemies,” he said, referring to some countries, such as the “rabid
dog of the region, namely the Zionist regime,” as quoted by Iran’s Tasnim News
The leader also criticized France, after French President
Francois Hollande assured Israel on Sunday that it would continue to oppose an
easing of economic sanctions against Iran until it was convinced Tehran had
given up any pursuit of nuclear weapons.
French officials, Khamenei said,
were “not only succumbing to the United States, but they are kneeling before the
Khamenei’s comments about France are “unacceptable” and
complicate nuclear negotiations, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-
Negotiators from Iran and six world powers meet for
two days of talks in Geneva for the second time this month after a first round
narrowly missed reaching an interim deal due to what diplomats said was Iran’s
insistence on its right to enrich uranium and French concerns over an Iranian
heavy water reactor.
Brandon Friedman, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University
and a researcher at its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African
Studies, told The Jerusalem Post that Khamenei gave a hard-line speech because
“he wants to set the stage for a deal.”
If Iran is going to compromise
with the US and the West, then its leadership “needs to reinforce the remaining
pillar of ideology: the little Satan, or Israel.”
“As Iran approaches
some kind of détente with the West, we can expect its rhetoric on Israel to
become harsher,” said Friedman.
Commenting on how much of the Western
press did not report some of Khamenei’s harsher remarks, Friedman said it was
disappointing that the press seems reluctant to report both images coming out of
“They prefer the image of a new regime,” he said, “but the fact is
[that] to understand the Islamic republic, the supreme authority resides with
“It seems curious that Khamenei’s denigrating and insulting
remarks about Israeli officials went under-reported in the Western media,”
Khamenei also said that “sanctions are not effective,” and
the US knows this and that is why they resort to military threats. “They know
sanctions are a nonstarter, not effective.”
“Instead of making military
threats, you better go improve your dilapidated economy,” he said, adding, “You
better do something to prevent a two-week shutdown of the government,” referring
to the US government shutdown in October.
“We do insist that we will not
step back one iota from our rights,” Khamenei stated.
“We do not
intervene in the details of these talks. There are certain redlines and
limits. These have to be observed.”
In a likely reference to UN,
US and EU sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear activities, Khamenei said: “They
intend to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Iranians will succumb to no one under
“They should know that the Iranian nation respects all nations
of the world, but we will slap aggressors in the face in such a way they will
never forget it,” Khamenei said.
After the strong rhetoric Khamenei then
went on to show the regime’s softer side.
“We want to have friendly
relations with all nations, even the United States. We are not hostile to the
American nation. They are like other nations in the world.”
America,” the militiamen chanted in response, repeating one of the main rallying
cries for supporters of the Islamic Republic.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign
Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday in a meeting with his Italian
counterpart in Rome that Iran is serious and that the world powers need to take
a realistic approach and avoid being greedy in their demands, according to
Iran’s Fars News Agency.