Iran Nuclear Talks: U.S. 'Not Trustworthy,' Says Top Tehran Cleric

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LONDON — One of Iran's most powerful clerics lashed out at the American government on Tuesday, saying the U.S. could not be trusted during high-stakes nuclear talks.

The Obama administration is working with five world powers and Iran to reach a deal on Tehran's nuclear program.

Grand Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi said Tuesday, however, that "the U.S. government reneges on its promises and is not trustworthy.

He told a meeting of the Assembly of Experts, Iran's most influential clerical body, that any agreement reached in the talks "would [be a] pretext for cheating, hypocrisy and promise-reneging by the American side."

"We support nuclear talks and also support an agreement, but a good deal in which the country's dignity and national interests are conserved," he added.

Shahroudi is a member of Iran's Guardian Council, a powerful body charged with interpreting the Islamic Republic's constitution, and thought to be a contender to become Iran's next Supreme Leader.

His comments follow a letter from Senate Republicans to the Tehran government in which 47 politicians suggested they would undo any agreement signed by President Barack Obama.

"President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then — perhaps decades," Monday's message stated.

The letter, along with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech in Congress last week warning against a nuclear agreement with Iran, was harshly criticized by Iran's Foreign Minister Javed Zarif, and the White House.

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— Ali Arouzi and F. Brinley Bruton

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