Hard-line cleric warns of ‘underground network’ with America

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At today’s Tehran Friday prayers, hard-line cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati warned that officials are trying establish “secret relationships” with the United States. Jannati’s comments came on the heels of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warning that the nuclear negotiations will not resolve the issues between Iran and the United States.

“A number of people are trying to build an underground network for relations with America,” Jannati said. “Every time there is an opportunity, a number of America-worshipers with America-friendship … deep within their existence will say something.”

Jannati, who heads the powerful Guardian Council that vets laws and candidates, did not specify who he was addressing. But as a result of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), Iranian officials have had direct talks with US officials, and Iranian Reformist newspapers have given the meetings very enthusiastic coverage.

Jannati told those who he accused of trying to build this “secret network,” “The people accept neither America nor you. Why are you separating your path from the people? What you are doing is futile and will not reach results. However, … the people are not with you, and as long as the people do not want it, nothing will take place.”

Jannati also criticized the demands being made on Iran in the nuclear negotiations and particularly reports that the final nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 will involve aspects of Iran’s missile program. He also warned Iran’s nuclear negotiators not to allow other topics to enter the negotiations.

“Do not interfere in other work,” Jannati said to the negotiators. “We will not allow you to enter into other issues during the meetings to solve the nuclear issue. We will not give up our rights, and we want nothing more than our rights.”

Jannati also accused government officials of attempting to sideline colleagues of assassinated nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. He did not give details, but did say that it was Ahmadi Roshan and other scientists “who brought the nuclear program to this point.” After the interim nuclear deal was signed, Ahmadi Roshan’s father criticized the deal. It is not clear whether these nuclear scientists are being “removed from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran,” as Jannati claims, transferred or if the nature of their work is changing.

As evidence that the United States has not given up on interfering in Iranian affairs, Jannati pointed to US officials’ criticizing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for visiting the grave of senior Hezbollah member Imad Mughniyah on his official visit to Lebanon.

“We have not gotten anywhere, and they are prying and interfering. For instance, they ask why our foreign minister goes to the tomb of the martyr Mughniyah. We must tell them that this martyr is a martyr of Hezbollah, and our martyrs, whether in Iran or Lebanon, are in our hearts.”