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Khomeini Blasts Aides for Secret Talks With U.S.

November 21, 1986|CHARLES P. WALLACE | Times Staff Writer

AMMAN, Jordan — After a lengthy silence, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran on Thursday rebuked officials of his government who were involved in efforts to improve relations with the United States and said they were "Satan-oriented."

The 86-year-old spiritual leader of Iran's Islamic Revolution mentioned no officials by name, but his remarks, broadcast by Tehran radio, appeared designed to suspend the contacts that have been established by the Reagan Administration.

"Why should we be so Western-oriented or Satan-oriented?" Khomeini said, according to unofficial translations of the broadcast. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979 deposed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, "the Great Satan" has been Khomeini's name for the United States.

'Should Be Screaming'

Saying some Iranian officials had fallen victim to propaganda from the White House, which he called the "Black House," Khomeini said: "I never expected such a thing from these people. At this time they should be screaming at America."

Seeming to revel in the uproar in the United States over President Reagan's moves to sell arms to Tehran, Khomeini also said that Reagan "should go into mourning because of this disgrace." He referred to the furor in the United States as "this big explosion that has taken place at the Black House in Washington."

Khomeini, who was addressing relatives of soldiers killed in the country's war with Iraq, also appeared to lend credence to recent reports suggesting that a power struggle was under way between high-ranking members of the government.

"Why do you want to create divisions among the heads of the country?" the Iranian leader asked. "What has come upon us? Where are we going?"

Reagan acknowledged last week that the United States had sent a "small amount" of arms and spare parts to Iran in an effort to open a diplomatic dialogue with so-called moderate forces in Iran.

Reagan denied that the arms sales were ransom paid for three American hostages held in Lebanon by Islamic Jihad (Islamic Holy War), a pro-Iranian group of terrorists, although the hostages were released shortly after the arms were delivered to Iran.

Since the diplomatic overture was disclosed two weeks ago, Iranian officials have been at pains to distance themselves from the reported negotiations with Washington. Iranian officials have admitted that former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane visited Tehran, but they say he held no substantive talks with Iranian officials.

Yet remarks by some officials, notably Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani, have left open the possibility that Iran might try to improve relations with the United States if Washington were to meet conditions laid down by the Tehran government. The conditions include the release of weapons bought by the shah's government but never delivered due to an arms embargo that was placed on Iran by President Jimmy Carter after the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Islamic militants.

Dialogue With 'Moderates'

Rafsanjani and others were regarded by the Reagan Administration as moderates who were apparently to be courted to offset more radical figures such as Prime Minister Hussein Moussavi. Moussavi has ruled out a resumption of relations with the United States because such a resumption would run counter to the Islamic revolution.

Now, Khomeini has entered the fray. Although the ayatollah is believed to be ailing--one press report suggested that he had recently suffered a major heart attack--his stature as the nation's spiritual guide is unquestioned in Iran, and his pronouncements have the weight of law.

Khomeini said that the United States "with despair and cries" has now "come before the (Iranian) nation and wants to establish ties and apologize" for severing ties in 1979. But, he declared, Iran "does not accept."

Letter to Parliament

The Iranian news agency said one target of Khomeini's remarks is a group of Parliament members who had written a letter apparently dealing with the question of improving relations and establishing a dialogue with the United States.

"Be fair," Khomeini was quoted as saying in response to the letter, whose contents were not disclosed. "Is it the time for such an approval of the White House and Reagan?

"You mustn't break our people's hearts," he said.

Then, in an apparent reference to the country's political divisions, he said: "Don't create hard-liners and moderates. . . . These are against Islam, against religion, against grace."

Khomeini's remarks were delivered as Iran's leaders were searching desperately for arms supplies to offset the enormous materiel advantage enjoyed by Iraq in the six-year-old Persian Gulf War.

Khomeini himself had previously projected a resumption of relations with Washington, but only when the United States "behaves itself" and halts what he called aggression against Muslim countries.

The latest speech is regarded by Western experts as likely to cast a pall over recent efforts by forward-looking Iranian officials to improve relations with the West.

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