Tehran on Monday rejected any connection between nuclear talks with the West and protests in Iran, insisting that the internal situation does not concern others.
“European countries and America have linked the negotiating process to recent issues in Iran. The internal issue in Iran concerns the government and the people. We will not allow any country to meddle in Iran’s internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told reporters in Tehran.
As fierce antigovernment protests have entered their fourth week and close to 200 protesters are reported to have been killed by security forces, European countries, the United States and Canada have warned the Islamic Republic not to use force against its citizens.
Washington, Ottawa and the European Union have issued statements and some sanctions against those Iranian officials who have been identified as responsible for using repressive measures against protesters.
Kanaani stressed that as far as Tehran is concerned, the nuclear talks are not related to the protests and Iran is ready to continue the process.
Negotiations that the Biden Administration started in April 2021 to return to the Iran nuclear deal or JCPOA came to a halt before the current protests began in mid-September. The EU had presented a draft agreement in early August to Tehran and Washington based on 17 months of talks, but after several rounds of exchanges, Washington said that Tehran’s position was too far from bridging the gaps.
The onset of protests following the killing of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the notorious ‘morality’ police, and a strong international reaction to the incident already signaled that chances for a nuclear deal further diminished.
While Amini’s killing became an important issue, Tehran’s violent reaction to protesters made the situation more complicated.
Any nuclear deal would mean lifting crucial sanctions that would hand tens of billions of dollars to the Islamic Republic, an untenable proposition in the current atmosphere.
Kanaani defended the actions of the clerical government, saying that authorities are defending “people’s security” and the United States and Europe are intervening in Iran’s internal affairs by advocating for human rights. He referred to a few incidents in Western capitals where Iranian protesters have tried to enter Islamic Republic embassies. He argued that the West has double standards, telling Iran not to use violence against protesters but allowing attacks on embassies.
Both in France and Britain police intervened on a few occasions not to allow any breach of embassy grounds by protesters. In September, French police used tear gasand attacked protesters near the Iranian embassy.
Meanwhile, the protests in Iran have gone much farther that the issue of Amini’s death in police custody. Numerous videos from demonstrations across the country show that protesters want an end to the Islamic Republic or clerical rule, demanding full social and political freedoms.
The 83-year-old ruler Ali Khamenei has become a particular target of protests, with people in the streets chanting, “Death to Khamenei” or “Death to the dictator.”