Delivering the Tehran Friday Prayer, hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami took a tough line on the ongoing nuclear talks: “The 5+1 Powers, especially the US, intended to deceive the Iranian team of negotiators by trying to clinch a two-phased agreement instead of a single-phased deal.”

Ayatollah Khatami’s address reinforced Sunday’s denunciation by the Supreme Leader of a US proposal for an agreement on General Principles by late March, followed by a comprehensive settlement by a July 1 deadline.

Iran is insisting on a full and final resolution, including the lifting of sanctions on its oil and banking sectors within six months. The US is saying that the process could take “years”, even if the Islamic Republic meets demands to restrict its centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

Khatami made no reference to the Supreme Leader’s indication on Sunday that Iran was ready to conclude a compromise agreement, if this was done now and with a commitment to the quick easing of sanctions. Instead, he repeated the mantra that “no deal is better than a bad deal” and declared, “We thank God for having such a wise leader who foiled the enemies’ plots.”

Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) have failed to close gaps despite a series of high-level talks over the past month. Washington is indicating that Iranian concessions are needed quickly before the US Congress presses for further sanctions and an effective sidelining of any possible agreement.

Head of Revolutionary Guards: “Obama Astonished That Iran Defeated Islamic State in Iraq”

The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has issued a defiant statement to the US over Iran’s involvement in Iraq.

Addressing Basij militia in Tehran on Saturday, Jafari asserted:

The only country which helped and supported the Muslim states in Islamic Awakening developments was Iran, and when the Islamic State emerged in Iraq, no country but Iran helped with its destruction.

The world, even Obama, is astonished to see that the Islamic State, with its plan to remain in Iraq for years, was defeated and Iran has turned into a plague for the Islamic State in Iraq.

Supreme Leader Sends “Non-Committal” Letter to Obama

An “Iranian diplomat” has said that the Supreme Leader sent a letter to Barack Obama in recent weeks, replying to an October message from the US President.

The diplomat said Khamenei had responded to Obama’s discussion of possible US-Iran cooperation against the Islamic State in the region, provided a nuclear deal is secured. He gave no details beyond saying the letter was “respectful” but noncommittal.

A senior White House official declined to confirm that Khamenei’s response had been received.

Obama and Khamenei also exchanged letters in 2009, as the US President sought engagement with Tehran, but the correspondence was blunted by mass protests after Iran’s disputed Presidential election in June.