Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that US President Donald Trump has “disgraced” US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic.
“This new US president… has disgraced the remnant of America’s prestige and that of liberal democracy. America’s hard power, that is to say their economic and military power, is declining too,” he said on his Persian Twitter account, quoting a speech in Tehran.
A defiant Khamenei dismissed the renewed US sanctions — including an oil embargo — that take effect on Monday.
“The challenge between the US and Iran has lasted for 40 years so far and the US has made various efforts against us: military, economic and media warfare,” he said.
“There’s a key fact here: in this 40-year challenge, the defeated is the US and the victorious is the Islamic republic.”
On Friday, the Trump administration restored US sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, but carved out exemptions for eight countries that can still import oil from the Islamic Republic without penalty.
The sanctions take effect Monday and cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors. They are the second batch the administration has re-imposed since Trump withdrew from the landmark accord in May.
The 2015 deal, one of former president Barack Obama’s biggest diplomatic achievements, gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, which many believed it was using to develop atomic weapons. Trump repeatedly denounced the agreement as the “worst ever” negotiated by the United States and said it gave Iran too much in return for too little.
In a statement issued Friday night, Trump said, “Our objective is to force the regime into a clear choice: either abandon its destructive behavior or continue down the path toward economic disaster.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are “aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He has issued a list of 12 demands that Iran must meet to get the sanctions lifted that include an end to its support for terrorism and military engagement in Syria and a halt to nuclear and ballistic missile development. He said US allies such as Turkey, Italy, India, Japan and South Korea will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products as they move to end such imports entirely.
But proponents as well as the other parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union — have vehemently defended it. The Europeans have mounted a drive to save the agreement without the US, fearing that the new sanctions will drive Iran to pull out and resume all of its nuclear work.
Friday’s announcement comes just days before congressional midterm elections in the US, allowing Trump to highlight his decision to withdraw from the deal — a move that was popular among Republicans.
Washington says it wants a new deal with Iran, curtailing its regional interventions and missile program — demands which have been flatly rejected by Tehran.