As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was leaving Tehran to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a fiery speech accusing Washington of reneging on the terms of the nuclear deal and pursuing hostile policies toward the Islamic Republic. Speaking to a gathering of law enforcement students in Tehran, Khamenei stressed that the Islamic Republic will not be bullied by the United States and will react forcefully to any “wrongdoing” by Washington with regards to the nuclear issue. “Retreat has no meaning in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s dictionary,” he added. “We will continue to move forward powerfully. The enemy should realize that bullying may have an effect in other places but not in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Khamenei further lambasted latest U.S. sanctions against Iran. “Look at the shamelessness of the arrogant regime’s leaders! They demonstrate an evil act on a daily basis with regards to this nuclear negotiations and the nuclear agreement called J.C.P.O.A.,” he said referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in July 2015. He added that continued anti-Iran actions by Washington “validates” claim by the Islamic Republic Founder Ruhollah Khomeini that “America is the Great Satan.” He explained that the Iranian government negotiated the nuclear agreement to remove anti-Iran sanctions, but claimed that Washington is still using “bullying” tactics against Tehran. “The government should demonstrate that the Iranian nation relies on Islam and does not surrender to bullying.”
Comment: The Iran nuclear deal will be a key agenda item at the U.N. General Assembly. President Donald Trump, who is making his U.N.G.A. debut, is also expected to discuss the issue with world leaders on the sidelines of the summit. The Trump administration has threatened to walk away from the deal, but European powers have made it clear that they will oppose such a move. The administration is set to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal next month, and refusing to do so would allow the Congress to re-impose sanctions and cancel the accord. Asked after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today about whether the U.S. will keep the Iran nuclear deal, Trump said: You’ll see very soon.”
Rouhani will try to use the U.N.G.A. platform to seek international support to pressure the Trump administration to stay in the deal. Tehran has emphasized that it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal and has been mulling its options if the U.S. leaves the deal unilaterally. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has hinted that Tehran will remain committed to the nuclear deal even if Washington walks away from it – working with Europeans to “isolate” the United States. But if the U.S. leaves the accord and re-imposes sanctions, hardliners in Iran will make it difficult for Rouhani to adhere to the deal. Iranian officials have also threatened to resume high-level enrichment if the U.S. levies more sanctions against Tehran. “If America scraps the J.C.P.O.A., the Islamic Iran is able to revert to the start point sooner than expected and even stronger than in the past,” said Iranian Parliament’s Speaker Ali Larijani over the weekend.
While the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) confirmed this month that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement, the Trump administration accuses Iran of breaching the spirit of the deal. The administration also argues that the nuclear deal has failed to moderate Iran’s desterilizing role in the region.