TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s top leader said Tuesday that if the next US president tears up the nuclear deal, Iran will “light it on fire.”
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks appeared to be aimed at presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has criticized the deal and vowed to renegotiate it. Khamenei referred to a “US presidential candidate threatening to tear the deal up.”
“We do not violate the deal, but if the other party violates it, if they tear the agreement up, we will light it on fire,” Khamenei said in remarks published on his official website. Khamenei has the final say on all major issues in Iran.
Trump has called the nuclear agreement “catastrophic,” and in March, said that if elected his first foreign policy priority would be to dismantle the deal and what he said was Tehran’s global “terror” network.
The US State Department recently renamed Iran as the world’s top sponsor of global terrorism for its support of Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and various Shiite groups in Iraq and Syria.
The nuclear agreement signed in July last year between Iran and the P5+1 group — the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — came into force in January.
Under it, Iran has limited its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of many international sanctions.
Khamenei on Sunday said Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the agreement but that the US was dragging its feet on lifting sanctions in the banking and insurance sectors, and on unfreezing Iranian assets. “The Americans have not carried out an important part of their commitments,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif plans to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry in Germany later this week to discuss the implementation of the deal.
Khamenei reiterated his opposition to a wider rapprochement with the US and other Western nations, saying they remain hostile toward Iran.
“It is a wrong idea that we can reach a compromise with the US,” he said. “The main argument is about the existence of the Islamic Republic, and this cannot be resolved through negotiation.”
“I think that while on paper the US has lifted all sanctions, the psychological aftermath associated with many years of sanctions remains, and I think the US should play a more active role to remove them,” he said.
Iranian leaders have routinely bashed the US, post-deal, including calling it an untrustworthy enemy, and have continued to boast about Iran’s missile program, on which the US maintains related sanctions.