Khamenei on Rouhani: actions speak louder than the Ayatollah's words
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced early Saturday that President Rouhani's remarks at the UN last week were not completely "appropriate," according to AFP. Representing his first public response to Rouhani's New York trip and call to US President Barack Obama, Khamenei affirmed his support for Rouhani, but warned that the American government is still "untrustworthy...and breaks its promises" and "is a government seized by the international network of Zionism."
Khamanei, who has the final say on Iran's foreign policy decisions, had given Rouhani permission to attend the UN meeting to show "heroic flexibility," raising hopes among Western nations that a nuclear negotiation deal regarding the Persian country could commence in the near future. "Even if the supreme leader is critical [of Rouhani and US relationships with Iran], one should not forget that without [Khamenei's] permission the diplomatic initiative would not have been put in action in the first place," pro-reform political commentator Saeed Leylaz told AFP. " Khamenei's support for the government's diplomatic gestures falls in line with a change to the Islamic republic's uncompromising position on foreign policy."
In an interview Saturday, US President Obama estimated that Iran is a "year or more away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon," according to Reuters and the Associated Press. Talks in Geneva to negotiate a proposed nuclear deal between Iran and Western nations are scheduled to commence later this month. Rouhani has pledged to pursue constructive dialogue with the US and EU to end sanctions on Iran's oil and banking sectors as well.