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Iran Leader Criticizes US Amid Talks   07/28 06:30

   Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday called the U.S. "stubborn" in stalled 
nuclear talks in Vienna for discussing Tehran's missiles and regional 
influence, likely signaling challenges ahead in efforts to revive its tattered 
atomic accord with world powers.

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday called the U.S. 
"stubborn" in stalled nuclear talks in Vienna for discussing Tehran's missiles 
and regional influence, likely signaling challenges ahead in efforts to revive 
its tattered atomic accord with world powers.

   Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's remarks come as his hard-line 
protege, President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, is posed to be sworn in next week as 
the head of the country's civilian government.

   While Raisi has said he wants to return to the deal, which saw Iran limit 
its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, 
Khamenei seemingly called for a more-adversarial approach in his remarks. They 
also appeared to describe outgoing President Hassan Rouhani's eight-year 
government as naive for its approach in reaching the 2015 agreement as its 
officials sat before him.

   "Others should use your experiences. This experience is a distrust of the 
West," Khamenei said in remarks broadcast by state television. "In this 
government, it was shown up that trust in the West does not work."

   He added: "Westerners do not help us, they hit wherever they can."

   The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for 
comment. The Biden administration days earlier criticized Iran for saying 
America had delayed a possible prisoner-swap deal, calling it "an outrageous 
effort to deflect blame for the current impasse."

   French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von Der Muhll also told 
journalists Monday that it was "urgent for Iran to return to the negotiating 
table."

   "Through its actions, Iran continues to exacerbate the nuclear situation," 
she said. "If it continues down this path, not only will it delay the moment 
when an agreement might be reached providing for the lifting of sanctions, but 
it could compromise the very possibility of concluding the Vienna talks and 
restoring the" deal.

   In his remarks Wednesday, Khamenei described American negotiators as 
verbally promising to lift sanctions, but said any return to the nuclear deal 
must "include a sentence" on negotiating on other issues.

   "By putting this sentence, they want to provide an excuse for their further 
interventions on the principle of (the deal) and missile program and regional 
issues," the leader said. "If Iran refuses to discuss them, they will say that 
you have violated the agreement and the agreement is over."

   Rouhani sat off to the side at Khamenei's office during the meeting along 
with his senior vice president, while officials in his government sat before 
the supreme leader in socially distanced chairs amid the country's raging 
coronavirus outbreak. All wore masks, making it difficult to see their 
expressions as Khamenei criticized any outreach to the West while only praising 
"some" of the country's diplomats in front of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad 
Javad Zarif.

   "Westerners do not help us, they hit wherever they can," Khamenei said. He 
also said at another point: "They don't help, they are enemies."

   Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium gas to just 
3.67% purity, which can be used in nuclear power plants but is far below 
weapons-grade levels of 90%. It also put a hard cap on Iran's uranium stockpile 
to just 300 kilograms (661 pounds). Tehran also committed to using only 5,060 
of its first-generation centrifuges, the devices that spin the uranium gas to 
enrich it.

   Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 
2018. Today, Iran has broken all the limits it agreed to under the deal. It now 
enriches small amounts of uranium up to 63% purity, its highest level ever. It 
also spins far-more advanced centrifuges and more of them than allowed under 
the accord, worrying nuclear nonproliferation experts, though Tehran insists 
its program is peaceful.

 
 
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