Nuke agreement changes nothing

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday the nuclear deal with world powers did not signal any wider shift in Iran’s relationship with Washington or its policies in the Middle East.

The agreement struck this week was met with celebrations in the streets of Tehran as many Iranians anticipated it would allow the economy — battered by years of sanctions — to stabilise and make their daily lives easier.

But Mr Khamenei, who has the last word on high matters of state and had given his blessing to the nuclear talks, moved to dampen any speculation it would lead to a broader rapprochement with the US.

“We have repeatedly said we don’t negotiate with the US on regional or international affairs; not even on bilateral issues. There are some exceptions like the nuclear program that we negotiated with the Americans to serve our interests.”

US policies in the region were “180 degrees” opposed to Iran’s, he said in a speech at a Tehran mosque punctuated by chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

“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 towards the arrogant US will not change,” he said. Several Gulf Arab states have long accused Tehran of interference, alleging financial or armed support for political movements in countries including Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon.

Shi’ite power Iran denies interference but has pledged support for the Syrian and Iraqi governments, which are both fighting insurgencies by a variety of Sunni armed groups.