Iran will not negotiate with the United States over its nuclear and missile programs, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, after President Hassan Rouhani signalled talks with Washington might be possible if sanctions were lifted.

Washington withdrew last year from an international nuclear deal signed with Tehran in 2015, and it is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.

President Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program and its role in conflicts around the Middle East.

Mr. Trump said on Monday that he was hopeful Iran would come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal. “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal,” he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website: “We said before that we will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm.”

“We will not negotiate over the core values of the revolution. We will not negotiate over our military capabilities,” he was quoted as saying.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Rouhani had taken a more optimistic stance.

In remarks carried by state television, he said: “Whenever they lift the unjust sanctions and fulfill their commitments and return to the negotiations table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed.”

“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words.”

Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say in all major policies under Iran’s dual system, split between the clerical establishment and the government. He is also the head of the armed forces.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said on Tuesday that Iran saw no prospect of negotiations with the United States.

Last week the Pentagon announced the deployment of 900 additional troops to the Middle East, and extended the deployment of another 600 service members in the region, describing it as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran.

Speaking with reporters en route to Indonesia on Wednesday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the additional troops announced last week would go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Without giving details or evidence, Shanahan said that while the Iranian posture had changed recently, the threat remained.

Source » nytimes