Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday told a group of hard-line students they would witness the “demise” of Israel and American civilization, amid mounting tensions with the US.
“You young people should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in comments translated by Reuters.
He did not elaborate on the threat.
Khamenei also said the country’s president and foreign minister didn’t act as he wished in implementing the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The comments posted on the leader’s official website were the first time he’s blamed both President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif by name in his concerns about the deal.
“In some extent, I did not believe in the way that the nuclear deal was implemented. Many times I reminded both the president and the foreign minister,” he said.
He did not detail how he thought Rouhani and Zarif should have implemented the nuclear deal, but hawks for years have criticized the accord for giving too much away from the West without enough economic gain.
Khamenei has final say on all matters of state. His remarks to hard-line students gathered to hear a Ramadan lecture indicate the growing power of hard-liners within Iran a year after US President Donald Trump withdrew America from the nuclear deal.
Relations between Washington and Tehran plummeted a year ago when Trump pulled out of the multinational agreement negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama under which Tehran drastically scaled back its nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.
Tensions have ratcheted up further this month, with Washington announcing additional economic measures against Tehran, before deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran.
Trump further stoked the fire in a tweet on Sunday that suggested Iran would be destroyed if it attacked US interests.
A day later, Iran announced it had quadrupled its production capacity of low-enriched uranium. Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.
But by increasing production, Iran soon will exceed the stockpile limitations set by the nuclear accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Mideast already on edge.
Later on Monday Trump appeared to play down the immediate threat posed by Iran and said he was ready to talk if Tehran takes the first step.
But Zarif accused the US of “playing a very, very dangerous game” in a Tuesday CNN interview, warning of “painful consequences for everybody” if tensions with the Islamic republic escalated.
On Wednesday, a prominent reformist lawmaker said Tehran will “under no circumstances” enter a war either directly or indirectly with the US.
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh’s comments, reported by the semi-official ILNA news agency, carry additional heft as he serves as the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission.
“Under no circumstance will we enter a war,” Falahatpisheh said, according to ILNA. “No group can announce that it has entered a proxy war from Iran’s side.”