The day after a deadline for concluding a nuclear agreement was extended for seven months, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered his first remarks on the negotiations, saying that the West had failed to bring Iran “to its knees.”
Meeting on Tuesday with Muslim clerics in Tehran, the Iranian capital, Ayatollah Khamenei dismissed the diplomatic and economic pressure that world powers had brought to bear on his country over its nuclear ambitions.
“In the nuclear issue, America and colonial European countries got together and did their best to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees, but they could not do so — and they will not be able to do so,” his personal website quoted him as saying.
Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say on all important policy matters in Iran, including the country’s nuclear program. His remarks suggested that he would continue to support negotiations, but that he remained skeptical that they would yield a satisfactory agreement.Six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — have been negotiating with Iran over the nuclear issue for a year. Iran is widely believed to be developing the materials and means to build nuclear weapons, though it maintains that its program is strictly civilian and peaceful.