Iran’s leader: US pullout from nuclear deal leaves Trump ‘lost in history’

Iran’s supreme leader has said that American objections over the 2015 nuclear deal were a pretext for regime change, vowing that the US was bound to fail like “the famous cat in the Tom and Jerry” cartoon.

Speaking two days after the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran could restart the nuclear activities it halted under the agreement if Europe failed to safeguard the agreement after the US pulled out.

“Since the beginning of the revolution till today, the US has committed all kinds of animosity to hit the Islamic Republic … All these actions are aimed at ‘overthrowing’ the Islamic Republic,” said the 78-year-old Ayatollah, the man with ultimate power in Iran, who was speaking before senior officials to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“You can compare the Islamic Republic now to 40 years ago, and see that it is moving forward with various capabilities. So, all their plots have failed … just like the famous cat from the Tom and Jerry cartoon.”

Pompeo, in his speech on Monday aimed at laying out the Trump administration’s policy on Iran, had said that the US would not separate negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme from other issues like regional conflicts and missile development. He also laid down 12 conditions for Iran, including putting an end to launches of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and withdrawing all forces under Iranian command from Syria.

Khamenei compared Donald Trump to his predecessors, particularly George W Bush, “the other neocons, and [Ronald] Reagan”, saying that he “will be lost in history”. The ayatollah told Iranian officials that Tehran “cannot interact” with the US government because it does not stick to its commitments.

He was hinting at Trump’s decision earlier this month to pull the US out of the landmark nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), struck between Iran and the world’s six major powers in Vienna in 2015.

He said: “[The Americans] threatened [us] and went against their commitments. This is an answer to all those who, repeatedly, over time asked me: ‘Why don’t we negotiate with the US, or why don’t we develop relations with the US?’”

Khamenei said the US had previously squandered chances of rapprochement with Iran during the presidency of the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, when George W Bush labeled Tehran part of the “axis of evil”.

Since the US withdrew from the deal, the Europeans have been scrambling to salvage the agreement, even taking measures to nullify the effect of Trump imposing sanctions on any non-US firm that continues to do business with Iran.

Khamenei said he was pessimistic about the three European countries involved in the nuclear deal, the UK, France and Germany, because, he said, they have proved that on the most sensitive issues they follow the US. “Of course, Europe will not stand in the United States’ way. Let’s be realistic and not count on probabilities,” he said.

He laid down six conditions for Europe if it wants Iran to remain in the agreement, including a halt to objecting to Iran’s missile tests or regional behaviour.

“Europe must guarantee that Iran’s oil will be completely sold. If the US can damage the sale of our oil, we must be able to sell as much oil as we want,” he said. “If the Europeans linger over our demands, Iran has the right to resume its nuclear activities. When we see that the JCPOA was useless, one way forward is to restart those halted activities.”

This week, a group of prominent Iranian and American academics and public figures, including Noam Chomsky and the Iranian actor Taraneh Alidoosti, reached out to the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, asking her in a public letter to make sure the west delivered on its promises under the agreement.

They said: “The Iranian people backed peace and diplomacy. Now it is the responsibility of the international community to demonstrate that they made the right decision and that the promises that were made will be carried out and effectively realised.”


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