TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected any idea of bilateral talks with the United States in a speech in which he scoffed at Iranian officials who might consider such negotiations.
A staunch ideologue who has often rejected dialogue with America, Khamenei was apparently responding to a United States offer of one-on-one negotiations between the two countries on a range of topics, including Iran’s disputed nuclear program, a suggestion that Vice President Joe Biden reinforced last week during a security conference in Munich. The Iranian foreign minister said then he was open to such talks, although Biden noted that they could proceed only if the ayatollah showed serious interest.
The ayatollah’s objection is an edict to which other Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, must adhere, and it comes after several high-ranking Iranian officials, including Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, had said the Obama administration had been taking positive steps toward Iran. Khamenei was straightforward in his speech Thursday before air force commanders in his Tehran office, which was reported on his website.
He said that while some ‘‘simple-minded people’’ might be happy about the prospect of bilateral talks, Iran had seen nothing from Washington other than the same conspiracies.
‘‘The Iranian nation will not negotiate under pressure,’’ he said. Noting the international sanctions against Iran, he said: ‘‘The US is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them. The Iranian nation will not be intimidated.’’
His remarks came after new restrictions were imposed on payments for Iranian oil Wednesday, a move that increased economic pressure on Iran, and as Iranian and Western officials said Iran had agreed to resume multilateral nuclear talks with world powers this month in Kazakhstan. The ayatollah’s rejection of talks with the United States will not affect the Kazakhstan talks, set to begin Feb. 26.
He said the United States was desperate for talks because its policy in the Middle East had failed.
‘‘They need to draw a trump card,’’ he said. ‘‘Their trump card is urging Iran to sit at the negotiating table.’’
‘‘I’m not a diplomat, I’m a revolutionary, and speak frankly and directly,’’ he said. ‘‘If anyone wants the return of US dominance here, people will grab his throat.’’
His speech was a reaction to US sanctions against Iran, people close to him said.
‘‘There is no room for any optimism,’’ said Hamid Reza Taraghi, a politician. Pointing to the new sanctions, decisions by US courts to seize Iranian assets and support for the opposition in Syria, where President Bashar Assad is Iran’s last regional ally, he said, ‘‘We haven’t seen anything good from the US.’’