Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Thursday that nuclear negotiation talks with the U.S. reveal the western country's enmity toward Iran and Islam. He also described the U.S. as "Satan."
While speaking in the religious city of Qom, Khamenei said that the talks between Iran and the U.S. do reveal America's enmity, but this enmity will not stop the Middle Eastern country from pursuing negotiations for their nuclear weapons program and an easing of their international sanctions.
"We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan (the United States) to deter its evil," Khamenei said, as reported by the official IRNA news agency.
"The nuclear talks showed the enmity of America against Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims," the leader continued.
Khamenei went on to say that while the "the enemy's smile shouldn't be taken seriously," on key issues Iran "will negotiate with this Satan, to deter its evil and solve problems."
Khamenei's comments were made hours before Iran and the European Union resumed nuclear negotiation talks in Geneva. In November, an interim agreement had been reached that would halt part of Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for eased sanctions, a deal that would benefit the oil producer's struggling economy. This temporary deal would be enacted for six months until a final settlement was reached, but the interim agreement has yet to be implemented. Iran met with the European Union on Thursday to sort out "remaining technical issues" relating to the deal.
"I hope during the two-day talks we can resolve the remaining technical issues which are based on our different interpretation of text of the November accord," Iran's top negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, told state television Thursday while in Geneva, as reported by Reuters.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed optimism for these resumed talks, writing on his Facebook on Wednesday: "The nuclear talks are continuing with seriousness and a strong political will," adding that the previous talks had produced "positive results."
Iranian analysts argue that Khamenei's harsh comments were perhaps a political move to prepare himself in case the negotiation talks fail. In spite of his comments, the country's supreme leader has backed the negotiation talks for their possible sanction relief, even though fellow conservatives have expressed reservations.
"Khamenei, while Iran's highest authority, is nevertheless not omnipotent," Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the RAND Corporation, told The New York Times. "He is likely to support negotiations if they produce results, meaning sanctions relief, but he also has to prepare himself politically for the failure of the nuclear talks."