TEHRAN, Iran — A top security official in Iran said Wednesday the Islamic Republic has written back in response to letters sent by US President Barack Obama, the first acknowledgement of such correspondence. However, it’s not clear whether Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote the letters himself.
The letter writing is part of a recent thaw in relations between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed shah and the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran, where 52 Americans were held hostage for more than a year. It also comes as a US-led coalition battles the Islamic State terror group in neighboring Iraq and as Iran and world powers negotiate a permanent deal regarding the country’s contested nuclear program.
“This is not the first time that such a thing has taken place,” said Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, during an appearance on state television Wednesday night. “It had previously taken place and necessary response was given to some of them.”
Obama’s recent letter to Khamenei described a shared interest between the US and Iran in fighting Islamic State militants and stressed that any cooperation on that would be largely contingent on Iran agreeing to the nuclear deal, according to the Wall Street Journal. Shamkhani said the letter “mainly focused on nuclear issues.”
We responded “that we can’t accept at all to have a decorative, caricaturistic nuclear industry,” Shamkhani said.
The letter was sent without informing Israel or other Middle Eastern allies, according to unnamed sources familiar with the correspondence cited by the paper.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, the country’s former top nuclear negotiator, criticized the US Tuesday, asking why Obama “uses bullying words against Iran when he speaks to the media, but picks up a very friendly and kindly tone when he writes a letter [to Khamenei],” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
The letter to Khamenei was the fourth from Obama since he took office in 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Full article: Iran says it responded to several letters by Obama (The Times of Israel)