Iran’s supreme leader: There will be no talks with US at any level
Iran’s supreme leader announced on Tuesday that “there will be no talks with the US at any level” – remarks apparently meant to end all speculation about a possible US-Iran meeting between the two countries’ presidents at the UN later this month.
Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying this is the position of the entire leadership of the country and that “all officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe” this.
“There will be no talks with the US at any level,” he said.
“If America changes its behavior and returns to [Iran’s 2015] nuclear deal, then it can join multilateral talks between Iran and other parties to the deal,” Khamenei added.
“If we yield to their pressure and hold talks with Americans … This will show that their maximum pressure on Iran has succeeded. They should know that this policy has no value for us,” said Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters.
There had been reports about a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, during the upcoming UN General Assembly this month in New York.
But tensions roiling the Persian Gulf have escalated following a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that the US alleged Iran was responsible for – a charge Iran denies.
The attack – which set ablaze a crucial Saudi oil processing plant and a key oil field – was claimed by Iranian-allied Houthi rebels, who are at war with a Saudi-led coalition that is trying to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government to power.
Trump declared on Monday it “looks” like Iran was behind the explosive attack on the Saudi oil facilities. But he stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table in response to the strike against a key US Mideast ally.
Oil prices soared worldwide amid the damage in Saudi Arabia and sparked fresh Middle East war concerns. But Trump put the brakes on any talk of quick military action – earlier he had said the US was “locked and loaded” – and he said the oil impact would not be significant on the US, which is a net energy exporter.
The Saudi government called the attack an “unprecedented act of aggression and sabotage” but stopped short of directly pinning blame on Iran.
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the US was considering dispatching additional military resources to the Gulf but that no decisions had been made. The US already has the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group in the area, as well as fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, and air defense systems.
Trump, alternating between aggressive and nonviolent reactions, said the US could respond “with an attack many, many times larger” but also “I’m not looking at options right now.”
American officials released satellite images of the damage at the heart of the kingdom’s Abqaiq processing plant and a key oil field, and two US officials said the attackers used multiple cruise missiles and drone aircraft.
Private experts said the satellite images show the attackers had detailed knowledge of which tanks and machinery to hit within the sprawling Saudi oil processing facility at Abqaiq to cripple production. But “satellite imagery can’t show you where the attack originated from,” said Joe Bermudez, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who examined the images.
The US alleges the pattern of destruction suggested Saturday’s attack did not come from neighboring Yemen, as claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there. A Saudi military source alleged “Iranian weapons” had been used.
The Saudis invited the UN and other international experts to help investigate, suggesting there was no rush to retaliate.
Read more: Israel Hayom