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Iran leaders insist on specific timing of sanction relief for nuclear deal

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei broke his silence on the nuclear framework agreement, saying that Iran would not agree to a deal unless all sanctions are lifted after signing -- a requirement that could put Iran at odds with its negotiating partners. Judy Woodruff reports on what Iran’s leaders said about a potential deal amid questions about its role in the Yemen conflict.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, broke his silence today on last week's nuclear framework agreement, revealing more splits in how Washington and Tehran are publicly describing the deal.

    All this comes as tensions over Yemen are escalating. The supreme leader finally weighed in on the nuclear deal one week after it was announced.

  • AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader, Iran (through interpreter):

    If you ask me if I support or oppose the nuclear agreement, I neither support it nor oppose it, because nothing has happened yet. Nothing has been done yet. The whole issue lies in the details that they are meant to discuss one by one.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    According to American officials, the framework agreement between Iran and six world powers calls for curbing the Islamic republic's nuclear technology. In exchange, Tehran will get sanctions relief. Ali Khamenei insisted today that must happen when the deal is signed.

    Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, used different words on the timing.

  • PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter):

    We will not sign any agreement unless all economic sanctions are lifted at once, on the very first day of the implementation of the agreement.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    That could put Iran at odds with its negotiating partners, who have indicated sanctions would be lifted in phases.

    State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke repeated the point today.

  • JEFF RATHKE, State Department Spokesman:

    The process of sanctions suspension or relief will only begin after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps. So that's consistent with what we have said over the last week or so. And that was agreed upon by all the parties.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The talk surrounding Iran's nuclear program comes amid questions about its role in the Yemen conflict. Shiite Houthis captured another provincial capital in Yemen today, even as Tehran again denied arming the rebels.

    But, in a NewsHour interview yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed the denials.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: We're well aware of the support that Iran has been giving to Yemen. And Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies have also intervened in Yemen with airstrikes against the rebels. Today, Iran's Khamenei condemned the Saudi campaign as genocide.

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