TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's Supreme Leader said Tuesday that western powers will not be able to bring the country to its knees in nuclear talks, however he gave his indirect approval for a continuation of those negotiations.
"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, speaking to a group of clerics, according to his website.
The remarks were the first by Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, since Iranand major global powers agreed Monday to decide by March 1 what needs to be done and on what kind of schedule. A final agreement is meant to follow four months later.
Earlier on Monday and in a nationwide broadcast, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told his nation that it "has achieved a significant victory" and "negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later."
Rouhani also said many obstacles in the talks "have been eliminated."
But he also vowed that Iran will not relinquish its right to nuclear capability.
"Our nuclear rights should be admitted by the world," Rouhani said. "We will continue the talks."
Mojtaba Fathi, a Tehran-based analyst, believed the extension of the talks means that "The 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."
Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday showed a mix of cautious optimism and defiance.
Vice-chairman of the 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. Parliamentarians in attendance responded to his remarks by chanting, "Down with America."
Lawmaker Mansour Haghighatpour, a member of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told The Associated Press that the extension of the talks proves, "Iran does not give in its long-term interests."
"Our national interests should remain intact," said Haghighatpour. "We had never pinned our hopes to the deal."
The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, 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 like power generation and medical treatments.