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Quotations from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
Four weeks ago I referred to an essay in the September / October 2013 issue of Foreign Affairs by Akbar Ganji, an Iranian journalist and dissident, titled “Who Is Ali Khamenei?’
So a little more from Mr. Ganji and his look at Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei as the latest round of talks between the P5+1 (Russia, China, U.S., France, U.K. and Germany) and Iran take place over Tehran’s nuclear program.
“In August 1989, two months after being elected supreme leader, Khamenei announced to the United States,
No one in the Islamic Republic has ever negotiated with you, nor will they... As long as American policy is based on lies, deception, and duplicity and supports corrupt regimes, like that of Israel, and perpetuates oppression against the weak and poor nations, and as long as crimes and transgressions of the American rulers, such as the downing of the passenger plane and the impounding of Iran’s property, remain in our nation’s memory, there is no possibility of our holding negotiations with the American government or establishing diplomatic relations with it. We completely reject relations between them and us.
“The following year, in a meeting with a group of students on the anniversary of the embassy takeover, he elaborated his thinking on this front:
Those who think that we must negotiate with...America are either simple-minded or frightened... What would negotiations mean? Would all problems be solved if only you go and sit with America and talk and negotiate? This is not the case. Negotiations with America mean trading with America. Trade means you get something and you give something. What will you give to America from the Islamic revolution for which you will get something?... Do you know what it wants? By God, America is not upset with the Iranian nation for anything more than its being Muslim, its standing firm with Muhammad’s pure Islam. It wants you to stop being so firm. It wants you to not be proud. Are you ready for that?
“Seventeen years later, in December 2007, at a gathering of students in the central city of Yazd, he returned to the topic:
One of our fundamental policies is cutting relations with America. Yet we have never said that we will cut these relations forever. No, there is no reason to cut relations forever with any state... [But] relations with America are harmful to us. First, establishing relations will not reduce the danger posed by America. America attacked Iraq while the countries had diplomatic relations... Second, having relations with the Americans is a way for them to increase their influence within certain strata...in Iran... They need a base that they don’t have now. This is what they want. They want their intelligence officers to be able to travel to Iran without restrictions... Some people brag about the harm that results from the absence of [diplomatic] relations. No, gentlemen! Not having relations with America is good for us. The day when relations with America will be beneficial, I will be the first one to say that relations should be established.
“In August 2010, in a meeting with high-level officials of the government under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khamenei offered his interpretation of ‘two recent cases of negotiations with the United States, one of which was related to problems in Iraq.’ This was at a time when Ahmadinejad had stated that he was ready to negotiate with the United States. Khamenei described his understanding of the U.S. negotiating style:
When the Americans don’t have strong arguments, when they cannot present an argument that is acceptable and logical, they resort to bullying. And since bullying has no effect on the Islamic Republic, they unilaterally declare the end of negotiations! Fine, what kind of negotiation is that? This is our experience in both cases. So, when people like Mr. President [Ahmadinejad] say that we are ready to negotiate, I say yes, we are ready to negotiate, but not with the United States. The reason is that America does not enter the field honestly, like an ordinary negotiator; it enters into negotiations like a superpower... Let them set aside threats, let them set aside sanctions, let them not insist that the negotiations must end in a specific conclusion. [Then there can be negotiations.]
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