Iran's Khamenei says nuclear talks will 'lead nowhere'
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
Iranian Supreme Leader's Office, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei makes a speech to military members in Tehran, Feb 8. AP photoIran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Feb. 17 that while he is not against a resumption of nuclear negotiations with the world's major powers, the talks will "lead nowhere."
"Some of the officials of the previous government as well as the officials of this government think the problem will be resolved if they negotiate the nuclear issue," Khamenei said in remarks published on his website Khamenei.ir.
"I repeat it again that I am not optimistic about the negotiations and they will lead nowhere, but I am not against them," he added.
Iran is due to resume talks on Feb. 18 in Vienna with the P5+1 powers - Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany - aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord on its controversial nuclear programme following a landmark interim deal in November.
Under the interim deal, Iran agreed to freeze some nuclear activities for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by Western powers not to impose new restrictions on its hard-hit economy.
Western powers and Israel have long suspected Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian programme, charges denied by Tehran.
Khamenei said Iran would abide by its pledge to pursue the negotiations. "The work that has been started by the foreign ministry will continue and Iran will not violate its commitment, but I repeat it again, it will lead to nowhere," Khamenei said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is leading Tehran's negotiating team, arrived in Vienna on Feb. 17. He is scheduled to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton over a working dinner. Iranian media reported the negotiations would officially begin on Feb. 18.