TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's supreme leader said Wednesday the United States cannot be trusted to lift sanctions in a future nuclear deal and that Tehran should instead develop an "economy of resistance."
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who makes the final decisions on all matters of national security, including the nuclear program, said the U.S. will only make more demands if Iran agrees to curb its uranium enrichment.
"The Americans are impudently saying that even if Iran backs down on the nuclear issue, all the sanctions will not be lifted at once. They are saying that clearly. It shows that this enemy cannot be trusted," Khamenei told visitors at his Tehran residence, in remarks carried by state TV.
His comments came ahead of a new round of talks between Iran and world powers scheduled to begin later this month in Geneva. Tehran and the six-nation group -- the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- hope to agree on a framework by March and a final agreement by June 30.
Khamenei has approved of President Hassan Rouhani's pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the decade-long standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, which Western nations suspect is aimed at developing a weapons capability, charges adamantly denied by Iran.
But Khamenei remains deeply skeptical about U.S. intentions, and has said he doubts the talks will succeed in lifting crippling international sanctions.
"Officials should not pin hopes on foreigners and should know that one step in retreat prompts the enemy to advance. You should take the instrument of sanctions out of the enemy's hands. If you pin hopes on the enemy, sanctions will remain in place," he said.
Khamenei said Iran should develop an "economic of resistance" in which it boosts local production of strategic goods and reduces its reliance on oil exports, which would make the sanctions less painful.