Iran’s supreme leader said on Sunday he could accept a compromise in nuclear talks and gave his strongest defence yet of president Hassan Rouhani’s decision to negotiate with the West, a policy opposed by powerful hardliners at home.
But Khamenei added that any agreement must be “in one stage”, incorporate all details and allow no “loopholes” that could be used to extract further concessions from Tehran.
As his foreign minister met counter parties in the talks at a conference in Munich, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he “firmly” backed a fair nuclear deal.
“I would go along with any agreement that could be made. Of course, if it is not a bad deal. No agreement is better than an agreement which runs contrary to our nation’s interests,”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iranian air force personnel, according to official news agencies.
In a speech that still underlined his suspicions about Western nations that he characterised as “bullies”, Khamenei backed Rouhani’s negotiations with them and said any workable deal would mean both sides easing their demands.
“As the president said, negotiations mean reaching a common point. Therefore, the other party ... should not expect its illogical expectations to be materialised. This means that one side would not end up getting all it wants.”
“I am for reaching a good settlement and the Iranian nation too will certainly not oppose any deal to uphold its dignity and integrity,” Khamenei said, an apparent warning to hardliners that they might have to accept a deal with powers including the US , commonly known in Iran as “the Great Satan”.
Negotiators have set a June 30 final deadline for a nuclear deal, and Western officials have said they aim to agree on the substance of such an accord by March.
The nuclear talks with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and France are aimed at clinching a deal that would ease Western concerns that Tehran could pursue a convert nuclear weapons programme, in return for the lifting of sanctions that have ravaged the Iranian economy.
Major sticking points are the pace at which sanctions would be removed, the size of Iran’s nuclear fuel-producing capacity and the length of any agreement. “Our (nuclear) negotiators are trying to take the weapon of sanctions away from the enemy. If they can, so much the better,” said Khamenei.