Ayatollah Khamenei Calls Nuclear Framework Agreement Non-binding

In first official comments on framework agreement, Iran's supreme leader says nothing is finalized, and notes that inspectors will not be allowed into military facilities under the pretext of nuclear supervision.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
In this photo released by the official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, waves during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 7, 2014. AP

In his first official remarks about the framework agreement between Iran and Western powers, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Thursday that nothing is finalized, and therefore the understandings remain non-binding.

"I’m neither for nor against the outcome of the recent talks. According to the Iranian officials involved no measure has been taken yet and there are no binding results," said Khamenei during a televised speech on Thursday.

Khamenei added that in light of past experience, he is not optimistic regarding the negotiations with the U.S., but allowed for the talks to take place anyway, stressing that he supports the ongoing negotiation, and would support a future agreement if it upholds Iran's honor and interests.

Khamenei also said that it's too early to tell if the talks will lead to an agreement, and called for restraint among Iranians on announcing victory or failure in the negotiations.

"I fully trust our negotiating team, but I'm weary of the other side's attempt at deception. It's all about the details. The deceptive side may want to stab Iran in the back over the details; it is too early to congratulate," continued Khamenei, who also praised Iranian nuclear achievements thus far, and reiterated previous Iranian claims that its nuclear program has peaceful purposes. "I told President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif that any agreement must preserve Iran's right to scientific and technological development. They need to find a way for that to happen," Khamenei said.

According to Khamenei, the United States published a document that was "mostly false" after the latest round of talks. "I gave President Rohani my list of principles and red lines. Beyond that, I don't intend to get involved in details," although he also noted that he instructed the negating teams to make it clear to the Western powers that Iran will not allow IAEA inspectors into military facilities under the pretext of supervision of its nuclear program.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran President Hassan Rohani warned that Tehran will not sign on to a final nuclear deal with world powers unless it is accompanied by the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Iran over the controversial nuclear program.

The comments by Hassan Rouhani are likely to complicate efforts to reach a final deal by the end of June and could indicate new demands by the Iranian negotiating team.

"We will not sign any agreement, unless all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the first day of the implementation of the deal," Rouhani said. He spoke during a ceremony marking Iran's nuclear technology day, which celebrates the country's nuclear achievements.

Iran and the six world powers agreed last week on a framework deal, which is meant to curb Iran's bomb-capable technology while giving Tehran quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and financial assets blocked by international sanctions.

But the framework deal does not include the immediate lifting of punitive sanctions imposed on Iran. Instead, it says the sanctions will be suspended once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations spelled out in the agreement.

The deal also specifies that if at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions would snap back into place.

The framework agreement has received major endorsement by the Iranian establishment, though hard-liners have overwhelmingly opposed it and described the deal as a "defeat" for Iran.

The West long has feared Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build an atomic bomb. Iran denies the charge and says its program is for peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment

Rouhani described the framework deal in Switzerland as evidence that Iran has "not surrendered to a policy of pressure, sanctions and bullying."

"This is our victory," said Rouhani.