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Iran could abandon nuclear deal, Khamenei warns

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Meng Tao/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
September 02, 2018

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that the country could abandon its nuclear deal with world powers if the agreement does not serve its interests.

Khamenei made the comments on August 29 after the United States withdrew from the 2015 agreement in May and earlier this month started reimposing U.S. economic sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the accord in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

European countries have been working to salvage the accord to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

But Khamenei’s official website quoted him as saying that Iran should “give up hope” of European powers salvaging the nuclear agreement.

“The nuclear accord is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it,” Khamenei said in a meeting with President Hassan Rohani and his cabinet.

The U.S. sanctions that were revived this month target Iran’s car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, as well as purchases of U.S. dollars crucial to support its oil exports and other global trade.

Further sanctions are due to go into effect in early November specifically targeting Iran’s banking sector and oil industry, which drives growth in the Iranian economy.

However, Khamenei reiterated that Tehran will not negotiate with the “indecent” U.S. officials at any level to reach a new agreement on its nuclear program.

The supreme leader also urged the Iranian government to work “day and night” to resolve the country’s growing economic difficulties.

“We need to be strong in the economic field … The officials should work hard day and night to resolve the problems,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.

Rising prices and economic hardship, combined with a dramatic decline in the value Iran;s currency, the rial, have triggered protests across the country in recent weeks.