TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran will not open talks with the United States that will only benefit Donald Trump, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday, insisting the U.S. president’s sanctions policy has failed.
Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have soared in the past year, with the sworn enemies appearing several times to come to the brink of war.
The tensions have been rising since 2018, when Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed crippling sanctions.
“There is no doubt that sanctions are a crime, a blow from the U.S. to Iran,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech.
“But the smart Iranian has made the best use of this attack, this animosity and benefited … by using sanctions as a means to increase national self-reliance.”
Khamenei said Western “think tanks admit that the maximum pressure (policy) of sanctions and U.S. force has not succeeded.”
The 2015 deal between Tehran and major powers promised relief from sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear program.
After abandoning the agreement, the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran’s vital oil exports and its access to the international banking system, and pressured allies and rivals alike to fall in line.
Iran has responded by trying to boost its non-oil exports, particularly to neighboring countries.
“This has caused the country’s economy to be naturally less reliant on oil,” Khamenei said, casting the development in a positive light.
Khamenei condemned calls for Iran to open new talks with the United States, saying he would not agree to meetings that were aimed only at boosting Trump’s re-election hopes.
The 81-year-old called Trump an “old man,” even though he is seven years older.
“This old man in charge, he apparently made some propaganda use out of his negotiations with North Korea. Now he wants to use (talks with Iran) for the (Nov. 3 U.S. presidential) election.”
Khamenei said that in return for new talks, the United States would demand: “Reduce your defensive capability, destroy your regional power and give up the vital nuclear industry.”
However, “No logic dictates giving into the aggressor’s demands,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse