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Tentative Nuclear Deal In Hand, Iran Says All Sanctions Must Be Lifted

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seen here in a photo released by his official website Thursday, stopped short of giving his endorsement to the framework nuclear deal struck last week.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country will only sign an agreement restricting his country's nuclear program if economic sanctions are lifted. The remarks on state TV came as Iran's supreme leader said he's neither for nor against the deal.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said that any arrangements must respect Iran's interests and dignity. He questioned the need for talks if they don't trigger the removal of sanctions, and he reiterated his distrust of the United States.

From Istanbul, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports:

"Today is national nuclear technology day in Iran, and President Hassan Rouhani used the occasion to tout Iran's nuclear achievements and to promote the framework for a nuclear agreement with six world powers, reached last week in Switzerland.

"Both Iran and the U.S. have been emphasizing the most favorable aspects of the framework from their perspective, including on issues that have not been resolved, such as the scope and timing of sanctions relief for Iran.

"Rouhani says Iran will only sign a deal if 'all sanctions are lifted the first day of implementation.' U.S. and European officials have been clear that sanctions relief will come after Iran's nuclear restrictions and other commitments have been made and verified.

"In the same speech, Rouhani called for an end to airstrikes in Yemen."

Speaking about those same issues later Thursday, Khamenei said he's "neither for nor against" the framework deal that was negotiated in a marathon session in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"In a speech carried by state TV," Peter reports, "Khamenei says there is no agreement until every point is written down and signed, and thus no need for his approval or disapproval before then. He adds that he still supports his nuclear negotiating team, and still distrusts the United States and its allies."

On Twitter, Khamenei elaborated on those ideas, saying of an American fact sheet about the agreement, "most of it was contrary to what was agreed."

He continued, "They always deceive and breach promises."

Khamenei also touched on Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying, "Islam & reason forbid us from acquiring nukes but nuclear industry is a necessity for country's future in energy, medicine, agriculture,etc."

The leader also said that special monitoring of Iran's nuclear program isn't acceptable, stating, "Foreign monitoring on Iran's security isn't allowed."

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