Iran's Khamenei gives qualified support to opening to West

Iran's supreme leader on Saturday backed President Hassan Rouhani's overtures to the West but criticised some aspects of a UN visit during which he spoke with US counterpart Barack Obama.

Obama, meanwhile, said Iran was "a year or more away" from acquiring a nuclear bomb -- a claim Tehran vehemently denies -- indicating that Washington is operating on a different timetable than its ally Israel.

The comments from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields ultimate authority in Iran, were his first public response to Rouhani's opening to the West in New York last week that was capped by a historic 15-minute telephone conversation with Obama.

“We support the diplomatic initiative of the government and attach importance to its activities in this trip,” he told military commanders and graduating cadets in remarks carried by his website,

However, Khamenei added that “some of what happened in the New York trip was not appropriate... although we trust in our officials.”

While he did not elaborate, analysts said it was directed at the September 27 telephone call -- the first direct conversation between presidents of the two countries since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Rouhani's visit to New York for the UN General Assembly came after Khamenei had given the government permission to show “heroic flexibility”, raising hopes of a breakthrough in long-stalled talks on Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

But conservative commentator Mehdi Fazayeli said the government had made a mistake in “cashing in too quickly its coupon” of direct contact with the US administration.

“If the call had achieved a valuable outcome, the leader would not have disapproved,” the Tehran-based Fazayeli told AFP.

However Saeed Leylaz, a pro-reform political analyst, said Khamenei's criticism should not overshadow the new softer tone in Iran's foreign policy, considering that “there are domestic politics in play as well.”

“Even if the supreme leader is critical, one should not forget that without his permission the diplomatic initiative would not have been put in action in the first place,” he told AFP.

Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state including foreign policy, has evinced little faith in a rapprochement with an enemy long derided as the “Great Satan.”

“We are pessimistic towards the Americans and do not put any trust in them. The American government is untrustworthy, supercilious and unreasonable, and breaks its promises,” Khamenei said.

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, said Monday that Rouhani should have waited for US concessions before agreeing to the call with Obama.

Rouhani has pledged to take a more pragmatic approach to the international nuclear talks in a bid to win relief from crippling US and European sanctions on Iran's oil and banking sectors.

Representatives of Iran and the six powers are to meet in Geneva later this month to seek ways to jumpstart decade-old negotiations that were put on hold in April ahead of the presidential election in which Rouhani won a surprise first-round victory.

In an interview with the Associated Press released on Saturday, Obama said Rouhani had staked his credibility on dialogue and it was up to the United States to see if he had the political weight to follow through.

“He is not the only decision maker -- he is not even the ultimate decision maker,” Obama said, in reference to Khamenei.

US, Israel divided on nuclear 'red line'

Obama also laid out a timetable on a possible Iranian atomic bomb that contrasted with that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has warned that Tehran could cross an Israeli red line within “weeks".

However, an Israeli official on Saturday insisted Netanyahu was not referring to the time it would take Iran to manufacture an atomic bomb, but the time it would take to enrich the necessary uranium for one.

Netanyahu had secured a tougher line from Obama in his public comments after their White House talks last Monday, with the US president saying the use of military force was still on the table to stop Iran’s nuclear drive.

In his address to the General Assembly last Tuesday, Netanyahu himself warned that Israel was ready to unilaterally strike Iran.

Khamenei fired back after Netanyahu's comments, saying the US government is "seized by the international network of Zionism, and has to put up with the usurper (Israeli) regime and show flexibility towards it".

"We hear the repetitive and disgusting threats of the Iranian nation's enemies. Our response to any mischief will be serious and harsh," he said, echoing previous warnings of retaliation against the Jewish state and US bases and warships in the region in case of an attack.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …

  • Filipinos are saving more – BSP survey

    More Filipinos have the extra cash to save for that proverbial rainy day, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP). Based on a quarterly survey on consumer confidence, domestic households with savings have the means to increase family reserves and to bring up the amount to historical highs. The central bank said improved family income, a generally positive outlook on the economy, inflation and foreign exchange rates encouraged saving behavior during the first three months of 2015. …

  • AXA Philippines growing alongside its parent firm

    Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corp. is growing side by side with its parent firm, global insurance firm AXA, after posting significant growth in its total premium income amid an increasing market share in the country. A statement showed that in the Philippines, multi-billion firm AXA Group saw P18.35 billion in total premium income. The local entity of AXA, AXA Philippines is a joint venture between AXA Group and the Metrobank Group. In 2014, it saw an increase in market share to 11.6 …

  • End to traffic jam in sight? Japan to lend P4B to PHL for road projects

    The Japanese government will be providing some P4 billion to the Philippines for road projects aimed at decongesting monstrous jams in Metro Manila.Noriaki Niwa, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the loan will cover major interchanges to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila, including flyovers, and road links.Among them are the interchanges on EDSA-Roosevelt/Congressional, EDSA-West/North, and C-5-Green Meadows and North/Mindanao Avenue. ... …

  • US won’t provide flexibility for countries interested in TPP

    Washington D.C.—The US government will not provide any flexibility for potential member countries, like the Philippines, in their bid to become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a senior official said. Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary William E. Craft, Jr., said all restrictions stated under the TPP trade deal will be maintained and have to be met by the current and future member countries. Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options