Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared that Tehran will never give in to Washington's pressure over the multilateral nuclear deal, noting that the United States remains Iran's “number one enemy.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has called the landmark 2015 accord agreed between Iran and six world powers the “stupidest” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” broke ranks with other major powers last month by refusing to formally certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord.
Under the terms of the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, Tehran agreed to curb certain nuclear activities in exchange for a lifting of most sanctions.
“The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation,” Khamenei, the top religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, told a group of students.
“America is the number one enemy of our nation,” he added.
Since the deal was reached in 2015, Khamenei has continued to denounce the United States publicly, suggesting that antagonism between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran would not abate because of the accord.
Iran and the United States severed diplomatic ties shortly after the revolution when students took 52 suspected U.S. spies hostage for 444 days. Iran will mark the anniversary of the U.S. embassy seizure on Saturday.
Throughout the 1980s, the United States also backed Saddam Hussein's Iraq in a bid to contain the revolution's spread, even when Saddam used outlawed chemical weapons to bomb Tehran and other civilian population centers in Iran during the eight-year war the two countries fought.
President Trump has adopted a harsh approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, bringing the U.S. into strict alignment with Tehran's foes in the region – Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Washington has imposed new sanctions on Iran over its missile activity, demanding that Tehran not develop missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs. In contrast, Iran insists it has no such plans and its missile program is solely for defense purposes and has also signaled an openness to mutually respectful negotiations addressing potential limits to such programs.
The deal’s other signatories, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, and the European Union say Washington cannot unilaterally cancel an international accord enshrined by a U.N. resolution.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said that Tehran would stick to the nuclear accord as long as the other signatories respected it. But it has warned about the consequences if the deal falls apart.
“We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal ... Americans are using all the wickedness to damage the result of the nuclear talks,” Khamenei said to chants of “Death to America” by students.
“Any retreat by Iran will make America more blatant and impudent ... Resistance is the only option.”
Trump also accuses Iran of supporting “terrorism” in the Middle East, a position Iran rejects, pointing to alleged backing provided to militant groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State group by Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
Shia Iran and its regional arch-rival, the U.S.-backed Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have accused one another of backing opposing sides in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, among other locales. With Trump's support, the Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain – has moved toward a normalization of relations with Israeli authorities, signaling a historic alliance shift.