President Obama has long known that the real decision maker in Iran is Ayatollah Khamenei, the so-called supreme leader. While other Iranian officials have negotiated with Western powers over the mullahs’ nuclear program, Khamenei’s opinion is the only one that really counts. It is for this reason that Obama began writing directly to Khamenei early in his presidency.
Earlier today, Khamenei broke his silence on the supposed “framework” the Obama administration has been trumpeting as the basis for a nuclear accord. Khamenei’s speech pulled the rug out from underneath the administration.
Khamenei accused the Obama administration of “lying” about the proposed terms, being “deceptive,” and having “devilish” intentions, according to multiple published accounts of his speech, as well as posts on his official Twitter feed.
Khamenei also disputed the key terms Obama administration officials have said were agreed upon in principle. Economic sanctions will not be phased out once Iran’s compliance has been “verified,” according to the Ayatollah. Instead, Khamenei said that if the U.S. wants a deal, then all sanctions must be dropped as soon as the agreement is finalized. Khamenei also put strict limits on the reach of the inspectors who would be tasked with this verification process in the first place.
Beginning earlier this month and in the days since, Obama and his advisers have attempted to portray the negotiations as major step forward. During an appearance in the Rose Garden on April 2, Obama said the U.S. and its allies have “reached a historic understanding with Iran.”
Khamenei does not agree. “There was no need to take a position” on the supposed deal before today, Khamenei said. “The officials are saying that nothing has been done yet and nothing is obligatory. I neither agree nor disagree [with any deal].”
"What has been done so far does not guarantee an agreement, nor its contents, nor even that the negotiations will continue to the end," Khamenei elaborated.
"I neither support nor oppose it," Khamenei reportedly said of the proposed deal. "Everything is in the details; it may be that the deceptive other side wants to restrict us in the details."
It gets much worse.
When Obama announced that a “framework” for the deal was in place earlier this month, the administration released a fact sheet purportedly showing the agreed upon “parameters.” The White House said the terms outlined in the fact sheet “reflect the significant progress that has been made in discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran.”
Khamenei would beg to differ.
“The White House put out a statement just a few hours after our negotiators finished their talks...this statement, which they called a 'fact sheet', was wrong on most of the issues," Khamenei said, according to Reuters. Khamenei added that the fact sheet, which doesn’t match Iran’s understanding, exposes America’s “devilish” intentions.
Khamenei’s social media team emphasized many of these points on his official Twitter feed, which published quotes from his speech. One tweet reads: “It's all about the details. The disloyal side may want to stab #Iran in the back over the details; It is too early to congratulate. #IranTalks.”