Teheran, 5 October
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today criticised some aspects of President Hassan Rouhani’s landmark UN visit in which he spoke to his US counterpart but voiced broad support.
The comments were the first public response by Khamenei, who wields ultimate authority in Iran, to Mr Rouhani’s overtures to the West in New York last week, which were capped by a historic 15-minute telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama.
“We support the diplomatic initiative of the government and attach importance to its activities in this trip,” Khamenei told military commanders and graduating cadets in remarks reported by his website, Khamenei.ir.
However he added ~ without elaborating ~ that “some of what happened in the New York trip was not appropriate”.
The telephone conversation on 27 September ~ the first diplomatic contact between Iranian and US presidents ~ broke 34 years of icy relations between Teheran and Washington since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
For Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state including foreign policy, the suspicion runs deep. “We are pessimistic towards the Americans and do not put any trust in them. The American government is untrustworthy, supercilious and unreasonable, and breaks its promises,” he said.
Khamenei also lambasted Washington for its alliance with Iran’s number one regional foe, Israel.
The American administration “is a government that is seized by the international network of Zionism, and has to put up with the usurper (Israeli) regime and show flexibility towards it,” Khamenei said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured a tougher line from Mr Obama in his public comments after their White House talks last Monday, sparking Iranian accusations of “flip-flop” by the US president.
In his address to the UN General Assembly last Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu then warned that Israel was ready to go it alone in taking military action to prevent any possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Khamenei said any such action would be met with a “harsh” response. “We hear the repetitive and disgusting threats of the Iranian nation’s enemies. Our response to any mischief will be serious and harsh,” he said.