Iran’s supreme leader has said his country will not take heed of “rants and whoppers of a foul-throated US president”, in a speech that also made clear that Tehran will not be the first to violate the nuclear deal.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his first reaction since Donald Trump decertified the Iran deal, said on Wednesday that “we will not tear up the nuclear deal so long as the other side has not torn it up, but if they do, we will cut it in pieces”.
The 78-year-old ayatollah told a gathering of students in Tehran that the US was angry because Iran had foiled its plots in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
“I don’t want to waste our time to respond to the rants and whoppers of the foul-throated president of the United States,” he said, according to the transcript of his speech posted on his official website. “The US is the agent of the international zionism, it was the US that created Daesh [Arabic acronyms for Isis] and Takfiri movements [Iran’s terminology for Sunni extremist groups].”
Khamenei said the US was infuriated by Iran’s role in fighting Isis. “They are angry because the Islamic Republic has foiled their plots in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt,” he said. “Everyone should know that once again America will receive a slap in its mouth and will be defeated by the people of Iran.”
Khamenei was reacting to Trump’s vituperative speech on Friday, during which he announced he was decertifying Tehran’s compliance under the nuclear accord, a move that could lead to the end of the agreement.
“Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification. We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Trump said at the White House.
Despite Trump’s move, European nations involved in two years of negotiations that led to the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), has remained adamant that the deal should remain in force.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said this week that she will be travelling to Washington in November to reiterate Europe’s message on the deal. High-level officials from the EU have been lobbying the US Congress to preserve the deal.
Trump said this week that terminating the deal was a “very real possibility” and that Iranian leaders had a “very modified” tone in their reaction to his speech. His decision does not immediately mean that the agreement is in jeopardy. He has asked Congress to add a series of amendments to the agreement for a more stringent implementation. Iran and Europe have said renegotiating was not possible and that the agreement was multilateral and the US could not unilaterally change it. But the US’s influence over the financial market limits European leverage.
“The European governments have affirmed [their stance] on the agreement and have condemned the statement made by the American president,” Khamenei said.
“We welcome this but it is not enough for [Europe] just to say that they will not tear it up. The nuclear agreement is in their interest. Europe should stand up against [US’s] practical measures and they should refrain commenting about our defensive capabilities,” he said referring to EU’s repeated concerns over Tehran’s missile programme.
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