Iran and the United States cannot eliminate the issues dividing them by pursuing bilateral discussions, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday in a speech reported by Reuters.
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Saturday said Washington was prepared to meet with Iran in an effort to resolve a longstanding dispute over the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear activities. Tehran's ostensibly nonmilitary nuclear program is suspected in the United States and other countries to be serving as cover for pursuit of an atomic arms capacity.
"American policy in the Middle East has been destroyed and Americans now need to play a new card. That card is dragging Iran into negotiations," said Khamenei, who wields the final word on all Iranian political decisions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though, on Tuesday said his nation would examine the talks offer "if we witness positive changes in [U.S.] behavior," Iran's Press TV reported.
Meanwhile, spending constraints will force the U.S. Defense Department to reduce the number of aircraft carriers deployed in the Persian Gulf from two to one, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. The Pentagon acted in 2010 to maintain at least two carrier groups in the body of water neighboring Iran.
Separately, a Swedish court on Wednesday convicted a man for attempting to illegally sell Iran mechanical components with applications in the nation's uranium enrichment program, Agence France-Presse reported. Uranium enrichment can generate civilian nuclear fuel as well as bomb material.
Managers of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication said Iranian banks are circumventing penalties aimed at thwarting financial transfers by preventing them from using the SWIFT system, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.