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Iran’s Supreme Leader Stiffens His Position on Nuclear Talks

By THOMAS ERDBRINK and RICK GLADSTONE
June 23, 2015

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader appeared to stiffen his hard line Tuesday on concessions in any nuclear agreement with foreign powers, one week before the deadline for completing an accord.

In a speech broadcast live on Iranian state television, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said he would not abide any freeze on Iran’s sensitive nuclear work for long periods, ruled out foreign inspections of Iranian military sites and demanded that all sanctions imposed on Iran be lifted with immediate effect once an accord is signed.

The ayatollah, who has the final word on nuclear matters, has repeatedly said he supports the negotiations. But his public statements have become increasingly unyielding as the talks between Iran and six major powers, including the United States, head toward a June 30 deadline. His remarks on Tuesday appeared to be the strongest yet.

“All economic, financial and banking sanctions, implemented either by the United Nations Security Council, the United States Congress or the administration must be lifted immediately when the deal is signed,” Mr. Khamenei said according to his personal website, khamenei.ir. Only after such a move, will Iran start implementing its commitments, he said. “Rest of the sanctions must be lifted in rational intervals.”

Photographs | Stress and Hope in Tehran As Iran and world powers including the United States try to reach a deal on nuclear controls in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, Iranians from all walks of life are watching and hoping for a new start.

Iran does not accept the “strange formula” for removing the sanctions suggested by the United States in earlier negotiating sessions, Mr. Khamenei said, adding that “removing the sanctions must not be dependent on implementing Iran’s commitments.”

The Supreme Leader also said that verification of Iran’s commitments by the International Atomic Energy Agency is out of the question.

“We have said from the first place that we want cruel sanctions be lifted,” Mr. Khamenei said. “You cannot ask us to fulfill our commitments and wait for the I.A.E.A.’s confirmation for removing the sanctions. We completely disagree with it.”

Mr. Khamenei also vowed to maintain an active nuclear program, which he says is for peaceful purposes. “Freezing Iran’s research and development for a long time like 10 years or 12 years is not acceptable,” he said.

Thomas Erdbrink reported from Tehran and Rick Gladstone from New York.

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(via NY Times)