WASHINGTON - Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed that even if a nuclear deal goes through, Iran will not open its doors to foreign influence. Khamenei's feisty speech Monday came as Iran's chief negotiator worked to solidify an agreement that for Iran will mean relief from crippling economic sanctions as it accepts curbs and monitoring meant to block it from developing a nuclear weapon.
Ayatollah Khamenei addressed a crowd in Tehran Monday that included members of the press.
"They thought this deal - and it is not clear if it will be passed in Iran or in America - would open up Iran to their influence. We blocked this path and will definitely block it in the future," he said.
Khamenei's speech was interspersed with his audience chanting calls for death to America, Israel and Britain. Israel's government and many U.S. lawmakers fiercely oppose a deal with Tehran because of its support for terrorist groups that have attacked Israel. The cleric's defiant remarks Monday gave fodder to those who argue that easing economic sanctions against Iran would enable it to expand such influence.
"The Islamic Republic will fully support anyone who stands up to the Israeli regime and embraces the resistance," he told the crowd.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, the Russian and Iranian foreign ministers agreed that the nuclear deal reached July 14 in Vienna will boost bilateral ties.
"Our relations have been good and the deal will have a positive impact on developing relations in all areas, including economy, defense and so on," said Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister.
A U.S. government spokesman reiterated Monday that a deal with Iran is limited to preventing Tehran from building a nuclear weapon.
"There are other issues with Iran, deep issues, with which we disagree, particularly their destabilizing activities in the region. And nothing's going to change about the fact that we're going to still -- we still will retain the tools necessary, whether they are diplomatic, economic or military, to deal with those activities," said John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department.
Even if the nuclear issue is successfully resolved, Iran and the United States remain opponents on many issues, including Israel. They also support opposite sides in Syria's civil war and the conflict in Yemen.