Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has rejected direct talks with the United States over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
Khamenei dismissed a call from Vice President Joe Biden last weekend suggesting direct talks, saying in a speech that the United States was proposing talks while it was "pointing a gun at Iran."
"Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America [but] negotiations will not solve the problems," Khamenei said. "If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them."
His decision marks another failed attempt by the Obama administration to lure Iran away from pursuing nuclear weapons by dangling direct talks and other diplomatic gestures as a carrot – an approach championed by John Brennan, President Obama's nominee to be CIA director.
"This strategy will require patience and sensitivity to the complex political realities inside Iran. To successfully chart a new course for U.S.-Iranian relations, the next president must (1) tone down rhetoric; (2) establish a direct dialogue with Tehran, including comprehensive, private discussions and deployment of a special envoy; (3) encourage greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon's political system; and (4) offer carrots in addition to sticks, including consideration of legitimate Iranian concerns on regional security issues," Brennan wrote in a June 12, 2008 article in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Before Iranian elections in June 2009, the administration sent a letter seeking better relations. Khamenei rejected that overture, too, accusing the United States of working behind the scenes to fan the flames of revolt in the wake of the disputed election. He claimed that the president expected the Iranian people to "take to the streets" while expressing his "respect for the Islamic Republic and for the re-establishment of ties."
At the same time, the U.S. has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran, deeply curbing its oil exports and sending its currency plummeting. But the combination of sanctions and an extended hand have had no apparent effect on Iranian actions.