Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, joined that nation’s president Thursday in saying any nuclear agreement must include the immediate lifting of economic sanctions choking the country.
In his first public comments on the framework for a deal with world powers released last week, Khamenei told a gathering of religious poets he “is neither for nor against” the agreement. Because the agreement is just on a framework, not a deal itself, “nothing has been done yet,” he said.
“What has happened so far neither guarantees a deal … nor does it guarantee the content of a deal,” he said. “It doesn’t even guarantee the talks will go on until the end and will lead to a deal.”
He said the punitive “sanctions should be lifted completely on the very day of the deal.”
The United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany — the so-called P5 +1 group — reached an understanding with Iran last week on limits to its nuclear program in return for lifting crippling economic sanctions.
The United States has said the sanctions would be lifted in phases, but the details have not been negotiated.
Negotiators have until June 30 to fill in the critical details to assure Iran it will get relief from the sanctions as soon as possible and to guarantee world powers that Iran won’t develop a nuclear weapon.
“The process of sanctions suspension or relief will only begin after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps and the breakout time has been increased to at least a year,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Thursday in Washington.
“That’s consistent with what we said over the last week or so, and that was agreed upon by all the parties,” he said.
Khamenei said the group of world powers is “not to be trusted” and may try “to limit Iran” in further talks.