10 Questions Answered by Ayatollah Khamenei on the JCPOA

June 2, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

A friend said that the ratification of the JCPOA has been attributed to the Leader. Well yes, they attribute it to us; but, you have the eyes and the mind to understand! Read the letter I wrote and see how I have ratified it.

Question 1: Where did nuclear talks with U.S. officials begin?

The Americans themselves asked for these negotiations and their proposals date back to the time of the tenth administration. So, the negotiations with the Americans began before the arrival of the current administration. They made a request and chose an intermediary. One of the honorable personalities in the region came to Iran and met with me. He said that the American president had called him, asking him to help. The American president said to him that they want to resolve the nuclear matter with Iran and that they would lift sanctions. Two fundamental points existed in his statements: one was that he said they would recognize Iran as a nuclear power. Second, he said that they would lift sanctions in the course of six months. Through that intermediary, he asked us to negotiate with them and to resolve the matter. I said to that honorable intermediary that we do not trust the Americans and their statements. He said, "try it once more" and we said, "very well, we will try it this time as well." This was how negotiations with the Americans began.

June 23, 2015

Question 2: Why did the Supreme Leader agree to negotiations with U.S. on the nuclear issue?

The Iranian nation benefits from a certain experience which I will refer to in brief. This experience will increase the intellectual capability of our nation, like the experience that we gained in the year 1382 and 1383 in the area of suspending our enrichment activities. At that time, during negotiations with the Europeans, the Islamic Republic agreed to suspend its enrichment activities for a while. But this turned out to be to our benefit. Why? It is because we found out there is no hope at all that our western partners will cooperate with us if we suspend our enrichment activities. If we had not accepted that optional suspension … some people would have said, "If you had retreated a little bit, all problems would have been solved…That act of suspending our enrichment activities brought us this advantage: it became clear that problems will not be solved by retreating…Therefore, we will not suffer a loss as a result of today's ongoing negotiations.

Of course, as I said, I am not optimistic and I do not think that these negotiations will produce the results which the Iranian nation expects. However, it is an experience. This will broaden and strengthen the experience of the Iranian nation. It is alright to hold these negotiations, but it is necessary for the Iranian nation to be vigilant.

November 3, 2013

Question 3: What goal did Iran pursue by engaging in nuclear talks?

Two fundamental points existed in U.S. president’s statements: one was that he said they would recognize Iran as a nuclear power. Second, he said that they would lift sanctions in the course of six months. June 23, 2015 We began these negotiations with the purpose of lifting sanctions, but you see that many of the sanctions have not been lifted yet. In the present time, too, they are threatening to impose other sanctions on Iran. They are going to restore the secondary sanctions, which had been lifted on the basis of a clause in the JCPOA and the resolution passed by the UN Security Council, was this the end goal? ...We negotiated so that sanctions would be lifted. The commencement of the negotiations was for the removal of unlawful sanctions. Continuing the negotiations was for this as well, and this should be provided. If this is not provided, the other things that have been achieved are not of great value.

May 23, 2018

Question 4: How much did the Supreme Leader intervene in the nuclear talk’s process?

I have not interfered and I will not interfere in the details of the negotiations. I have always pointed out the main guidelines, the important frameworks and the red lines to the officials of the country - particularly to the honorable President… I do not touch on the small details that do not interfere with those larger guidelines. These details are within the remit of their responsibilities. It is they who can work on them. If it is said that the details of these negotiations are supervised by the Leadership, this is not correct.

April 9, 2015

Question 5: Were the Supreme Leader’s redlines observed in practice?

In the case of the recent nuclear agreement too, the same situation existed although we approved of it and although we believed in and continue to believe in those who conducted the negotiations. In certain cases, our honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs said to us that they failed to keep certain red lines. March 20, 2016 When we are in a rush to finish tasks soon and to get some results, we ignore the details. Sometimes, ignoring a peripheral issue creates a rift and a negative impact in the accomplishment of that task. Therefore, we should be careful so that tasks are carried out in a sound and firm manner and at appropriate speed.

November 27, 2016

Question 6: Why did the Supreme Leader agreed to JCPOA despite redlines having been breached?

The JCPOA has certain pros and cons. It has certain advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are the things that encouraged us to conduct these negotiations… In fact, many of them were not achieved, but there were certain advantages in any case and we felt that these advantages might be fulfilled. June 14, 2016 On the issue of the JCPOA, the enemy was forced to accept this. Even that amount of retreat from the enemy was because of the power that the people showed. The Islamic Republic’s government showed power and dignity as well. Of course, I personally believe that we could have acted even better. Well, our capabilities, opportunities and resources allowed this much. However, even this amount of progress is noteworthy and significant. And this was because of the people’s support, national power, and the strong bond of the Islamic Republic with the entire Iranian nation and the masses of the people.

January 20, 2016

Question 7: Did the Supreme Leader 100% approve of the JCPOA’s final content?

Since some of the requirements of the leader of the Revolution in the JCPOA were not observed, the leader of the Revolution addressed a letter to the President on October 21, 2015, declaring the 9 requirements of the implication of JCPOA. The summary of the nine requirements are as follows:

  1. Taking strong guarantees, including written declarations, from the American president;
  2. Halting the activities on the part of Iran in the JCPOA, in case of applying any sanctions;
  3. Starting the activities presided in the articles 4 and 5 only after declarations on the side of the Agency [IAEA] which announces the end of the file PMD;
  4. Starting the renovation of the Arak factory only after signing the plan of substitution contract with necessary guarantees on its implication;
  5. Dealing and exchanging enriched uranium in return for yellow cake only if a gradual and strong contract is signed;
  6. Preparing a plan of mid-term development of the nuclear energy industry, investigated by the Supreme National Security Council;
  7. Managing research and development for acceptable enrichment in the JCPOA by the end of the eight-year period;
  8. The text of the negotiations acting as the reference--and not the personal interpretations-- in cases of ambiguities in the JCPOA document;
  9. Appointing a council for monitoring the other party’s performance of commitments, and reassuring the observance of requirements for the implication of JCPOA.

October 21, 2015

Question 8: How did the Supreme Leader react to U.S.’s breach of the JCPOA?

As for JCPOA, I've said from day one that the US cannot be trusted… If you want to sign agreements, you should request the necessary guarantees… One thing that I've insisted upon, in particular, were the conditions for signing the agreement. I said, "We will accept the agreement under certain conditions." Yes, there were some conditions; one of the conditions was that the US president should sign, in his own writing, for the lifting of sanctions: this was just one of our conditions… Well, the honorable officials made serious efforts; they sweated profusely over it, but they failed, and it did not happen. The result is what you are coming to witness now… we have fulfilled all of our commitments, but this pompous man comes along and says: "I do not accept this agreement. I want to withdraw from it...”

Now, it was mentioned that we want to stick to the JCPOA with these three European countries… I ask you not to trust them! If you want to sign agreements, you should require guarantees in return–real and practical guarantees. Otherwise, tomorrow, they will do the same thing that the US did, but in some other way.

 May 9, 2018

Question 9: What did the Supreme Leader demand Iranian officials in response to the other side’s behavior?

The attitude of the regime of United States of America towards these negotiations and towards their results is completely oppressive, thuggish and cruel! ... In the face of this hostile move made by the enemy officials should prove to the leaders of the corrupt regime of the United States of America that they are reliant on their own people… and will not give in to bullying thanks to Islam and that they will not bow down to powers… The Americans should know that the people of Iran will insist on their honorable and powerful positions. When it comes to important matters related to the national interests of the country, retreating is meaningless to the Islamic Republic of Iran… The enemy should feel this and he should know that if bullying and thuggish behavior works elsewhere, it will not work in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

September 17, 2017

Question 10: Given the existing situation, why did the Supreme Leader not order the halt of the JCPOA?

A friend said that the ratification of the JCPOA has been attributed to the Leader. Well yes, they attribute it to us; but, you have the eyes and the mind to understand! Read the letter I wrote and see how I have ratified it. Conditions were set so that the JCPOA would be approved only if these conditions were met. Certainly, when these conditions are not met and not applied, it is not the Leadership’s duty to intervene and say that the JCPOA should not be implemented. Of course, it is a different discussion what the Leadership’s executive responsibilities should entail in such matters. We believe that on executive matters, the Leadership should not intervene to implement or prevent the implementation of a task except in cases directly related to the overall movement of the Revolution. In those cases, we do intervene but not in other cases.

May 22, 2019