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TEHRAN, Iran - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a fiery speech Saturday that Iran would always oppose the “arrogant” United States - but did not criticize its nuclear deal.
In an address at a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", the hardliner said the deal was only about nuclear issues, pledging: “We won't let foreigners interfere with our affairs.”
“American interests and politics in the region are 180 degrees different to ours,” he said in the televised speech, four days after the Vienna accord in which crippling sanctions against Iran would gradually be lifted in exchange for long-term nuclear curbs.
"Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Even after this deal our policy toward the arrogant U.S. will not change," he said.
Jubilant Iranians spilled onto Tehran's streets after Tuesday’s deal, hoping for a new era in which they can access American consumer goods that have been off-limits under sanctions.
However, Khamenei warned America that it was making “grave mistakes” in the region, adding: “Five U.S. presidents have tried to bring Iran to its knees and they are either dead or lost in history.”
“We have nothing to talk to America about with regard to regional and global issues,” he added. “We have no bilateral issue to discuss.”
Khamenei's combative remarks were in contrast to a more diplomatic tone struck in Vienna by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Zarif, who plans to visit several countries in the region, told fellow Muslim countries on Friday that Iran hoped the accord could pave the way for more cooperation in the Middle East and internationally.
“By solving the artificial crisis about its nuclear program diplomatically, a new opportunity for regional and international cooperation has emerged,” Zarif said Friday.
He will brief Iran’s parliament on July 21, according to state media reports.
Khamenei did not criticize the deal, and even paid tribute to the negotiators. However, he was clear that Iran did not trust the United States.
Alastair Jamieson reported from London.