Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advised the government last July not to rely on European efforts to protect Tehran against U.S. sanctions, months after Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed penalties, Reuters informs.
The release of Khamenei’s speech nine months after his meeting with the cabinet, showed while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was trying to save the nuclear deal with European powers, Khamenei was not too optimistic about the efforts.
The Europeans would naturally say they are protecting Iranian interests with their package, “but Iran should not make this a main issue,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by his official website on Monday.
His comments were published a week after Rouhani rejected the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a U.S.-educated veteran diplomat who championed the nuclear deal. Khamenei’s attitude casts doubt on efficiency of Zarif’s past and present efforts to keep the agreement alive.
Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal in 2015 after more than a decade of negotiations. Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations were lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
Khamenei said that the 2015 deal did not resolve “any of economic problems” of Iran, and predicted that the mechanism proposed by Europeans to shield business with Iran against the U.S. sanctions would not also be a solution to economic hardship, Reuters adds.
France, Germany and Britain opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran in January, although diplomats say it is unlikely to allow for the big transactions that Tehran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi praised on Monday the proposed European mechanism, known as Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) as a “late but important step.” Qasemi, however, warned, that Iran will not accept any conditions from the Europeans, Reuters writes.