Iran’s Khamenei says talks with US won’t end recent ‘problems’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that negotiations with the United States would not end the “problems” that have rocked the Islamic Republic for the past two months.

Iran has seen weeks of demonstrations sparked by the September 16 death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. She had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

Government officials have blamed the “riots” on “foreign enemies” in the West, whom they accuse of inciting law-breaking.

“Some tell us in newspapers or on the internet that all you have to do is solve your problem with America and listen to the voice of the nation to end the problems that started a few weeks ago,” Khamenei said.

“Negotiating will not solve anything,” he said in comments aired on state television.

“Our problem with America can only be solved by letting this country hold us for ransom.”

Khamenei said that in order to bring hostilities to an end, the US wants Iran to abandon its nuclear program, change its constitution, limit its influence inside its borders and shut down its defense industries.

“No Iranian can accept such conditions,” he said.

Khamenei also referred to “the tremendous voice of the nation that rang out earlier this month during pro-government demonstrations and the funeral of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who the US assassinated in a drone strike in Baghdad in 2020.

“This huge crowd was the voice of the Iranian nation,” he said.

Khamenei made the comments to paramilitaries who visited him as part of the Basij week celebrations.

The Basij is a volunteer militia recruited under the auspices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“The problem is not a few rioters on the street, even if every rioter, every terrorist must be punished,” Khamenei told the grand gathering.

“The battlefield is much broader. The main enemy is global arrogance,” he added, using the collective term Iran for the United States and its allies including Israel.

President Ebrahim Raisi visited a Basij unit in Tehran on Saturday and told them, “You have performed brilliantly in the fight against the rioters,” Tasnim news agency reported.