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Iran's top leader says sanctions must be fully lifted for nuclear deal to survive

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's supreme leader said Thursday "there will be no deal" if world powers insist on suspending rather than lifting sanctions as part of a landmark nuclear agreement, and said it is up to Iran's parliament, and not him, to approve or reject it.

His remarks, read aloud by a state TV anchorman, mark the first official comment on the deal since U.S. President secured enough support to prevent the Republican-led Congress from blocking it.

Khamenei has yet to express a clear opinion on the deal clinched in July, which would curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions.

Khamenei said some U.S. officials have spoken of the "suspension" of sanctions, which he said is unacceptable.

"If the sanctions are going to be suspended, then we will also fulfil our obligations on the ground at the level of suspension and not in a fundamental way," he said.

Iran's supreme leader has traditionally had the final say on all important matters, but on Thursday Khamenei said lawmakers should decide on the deal.

"It is the representatives of the people who should decide. I have no advice regarding the method of review, approval or rejection," he said.

President is opposed to letting parliament vote on the deal, which he insists is an understanding with world powers and not a treaty. Last week he warned that if parliament votes on the deal its provisions would be legally binding.

A special parliamentary committee has begun studying the deal, but it's unclear how far the process will go since the government has not prepared a formal bill. It's also unclear how much support the deal has in parliament.

PHOTO: In this picture released by official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with members of Iran's Experts Assembly in Tehran, Iran. Iran's supreme leader says world powers must lift international sanctions and not merely suspend them as part of a landmark nuclear agreement. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "there will be no deal" if the sanctions are not lifted. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
In this picture released by official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with members of Iran's Experts Assembly in Tehran, Iran. Iran's supreme leader says world powers must lift international sanctions and not merely suspend them as part of a landmark nuclear agreement. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "there will be no deal" if the sanctions are not lifted. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

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PHOTO: In this picture released by official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with members of Iran's Experts Assembly in Tehran, Iran. Iran's supreme leader says world powers must lift international sanctions and not merely suspend them as part of a landmark nuclear agreement. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "there will be no deal" if the sanctions are not lifted. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
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