TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's top leader on Thursday said he would not stand in the way of continued nuclear negotiations with world powers and would accept a "fair" agreement, but vowed not to bow to bullying by the United States.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke on Iranian state television, saying "I am not opposed to the extension of the talks, for the same reason that I wasn't opposed to the talks per se."
Khamenei said Washington frequently changes its stances toward Iran in the talks because of its domestic problems, a reference to differences between President Obama and Republicans who now control the U.S. Congress.
"They raise a word today. The other they withdraw from it, because of domestic problems," said Khamenei.
He said Iran would accept a fair and sensible outcome of the talks, but would not be intimidated.
"We accept rational words; we accept fair and sensible agreements. But if there are bullying and excessive demands, no we won't accept. The Islamic Republic from top to bottom and neither the people nor the authorities will accept such remarks," he said.
Referring to the waning popularity of President Obama, low turnout in the recent congressional election and racial protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Khamenei said, "The U.S. leaders need a big victory," to overcome their domestic problems.
Khamenei has the final say on all Iranian matters of state.
Iran and the major powers agreed Monday to decide by March 1 about what steps must be taken and on what schedule. A final deal is meant to follow four months later.
The Western powers suspect that Iran's nuclear research has a military dimension, but Tehran continues to insist the program is peaceful, focusing on power generation and medical research.