Khamenei says Iran will withstand the pressure, slap US in the face again
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that American sanctions are putting pressure on Iran and its people.
In an unusually forceful speech from the holy city of Qom, Khamenei also mocked American leaders, as top US diplomat Mike Pompeo made a tour of the region.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and in November reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
“The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people. The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history,” Khamenei said, according to a Reuters translation. “Yes, they’re unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, God willing.”
Iran has ignored Western calls to curb its military development and has pushed ahead with repeated ballistic missile tests. The Iranian military recently announced its intention to deploy warships to the western Atlantic off the US coast as a counter to American military presence in international waters off Iran.
In an English translation of his remarks posted on his website, Khamenei said “Iran will overcome sanctions, slap US in face again.”
Khamenei also cited a story about a US official once predicting he’d celebrate Christmas in Iran to lash out at Americans.
“Some US officials pretend that they are mad,” Khamenei said. “Of course I don’t agree with that, but they are first-class idiots.”
The supreme leader did not name the official. However, US National Security Adviser John Bolton told a meeting of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq last March that “before 2019, we here … will celebrate in Iran.” Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has made similar comments before the MEK over the years.
Iran’s supreme leader, viewed by Shiite hardliners as second only to God, typically doesn’t make such forceful remarks. However, Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the nuclear deal has seen the 79-year-old cleric grow increasingly critical.
Punishing sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program had been curbed as part of a 2015 nuclear deal, but were largely re-imposed by the US last year, under Trump, who has taken a hard line toward Iran.
Trump has labeled the landmark agreement forged under his predecessor Obama as “defective” and unable to rein in Iranian behavior or halt the Islamic Republic’s quest to develop nuclear weapons.
In 2017, Khamenei dismissed remarks by Trump calling Iran a “terrorist” nation as “idiotic.” Last May, after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal which saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, Khamenei told Trump in a speech: “You cannot do a damn thing!”
Khamenei’s comments Wednesday came as Pompeo visited Iraq. On Tuesday, the US top diplomat threatened that America would double down on commercial and diplomatic efforts in the coming weeks to “put real pressure on Iran.”
Khamenei’s remarks to Qom residents were meant to mark the anniversary of religious riots in 1978 that challenged Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. They would spiral into the nationwide demonstration that saw the shah leave Iran and give rise to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranians will commemorate the revolution’s 40th anniversary in February.