TEHRAN, GENEVA, NEW DELHI: US sanctions are putting unprecedented pressure on Iranians, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump last year pulled out of an international pact on Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed sanctions intended to scupper Tehran’s oil exports, curb its missile program and clip its regional influence. The measures have hit Iran’s economy hard.
“The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people,” Khamenei said, according to a transcript on his website of a speech in Tehran to commemorate an event from the 1979 revolution.
“The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history. Yes, they’re unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented,” he added.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran will continue with its aerospace program despite US warnings, adding there was no international law prohibiting such a program.
Zarif, who is in New Delhi on a bilateral visit, also told Reuters that leaving a 2015 nuclear deal agreed with world powers is an option available with Tehran but is not the only option on the table.
The US earlier this month issued a pre-emptive warning to Iran against pursuing three planned space rocket launches that it said would violate a UN Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology.
Under the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
Iran has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile programme run by the Revolutionary Guards.
It says the programme is purely defensive and denies missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.
U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Wednesday dubbed some US officials “first-class idiots” as he ridiculed them for predicting the collapse of the Islamic Republic.
“Some US officials pretend that they are mad. Of course I don’t agree with that, but they are first-class idiots,” he said in speech in Tehran, quoted on his official Twitter feed.
Khamenei was having a dig at US officials who had predicted there would be regime change in Iran by the end of 2018.
“A while ago, a US politician had said, among a gathering of terrorists and thugs, that he hopes to celebrate this Christmas in Tehran,” Khamenei said, according to his Twitter feed.
“Christmas was a few days ago. This is how US calculations work.”
It was not clear to which US official he was referring, but members of President Donald Trump’s administration have called for regime change and predicted it would happen soon.
This has included National Security Advisor John Bolton -- a long-time regime change advocate -- who often speaks at gatherings of the exiled People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) opposition group, considered a terrorist cult by Tehran’s leaders.
“Before 2019 we here will celebrate in Tehran,” Bolton told an MEK meeting in Paris in July 2017.