TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader on Tuesday gave his indirect approval for a continuation of talks over its disputed nuclear program, criticizing world powers who many frustrated Iranians believe could have worked harder to reach a deal with the country.
The remarks were the first by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, since Iran and the major powers agreed Monday to decide by March 1 about what agreements must be reached on what schedule. A final deal is meant to follow four months later.
"On the nuclear issue, the United States and European colonialist countries gathered and applied their entire efforts to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees but they could not and they will not," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to his website. His reference to the future signals indirect approval of the talks.
Mojtaba Fathi, a Tehran-based analyst, believed the extension of the talks means that current international sanctions "will not increase against Iran and a reduction of the sanctions is possible while it has its own nuclear program on the ground. This has added to hopes for solving the case."
Vice chairman of parliament, Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabifard, said the U.S. is not trustworthy since Washington "sacrifices" its national interests for Israel, but he still voiced support for further nuclear talks.
On Tehran's streets, many said they had expected a deal on Monday, but that they remain patient.
"They should reach a deal," taxi driver Mohammad Sayari said. "I was ready to take to the streets alongside other people to celebrate the announcement of a deal, which could mean better opportunities for me to earn more for my family."
Hasti Ahmadi, a student in Azad Art University, said she did not expect any deal.
"The West is against us for any reasons," she said. "They cannot tolerate Iran's progress. They will raise another excuse after seven months to give up on a deal."
World powers have engaged in intensive negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. Tehran has denied its nuclear research has any sort of military dimension, saying it is focused on peaceful uses.