Iran’s top leader dismisses Trump’s ‘ugly, foolish’ remarks

Khamenei says US president’s criticisms at UN ‘do not come from power, but from anger, desperation, weak-mindedness’; Rouhani says Iranians want an apology

In this photo from May 2, 2016, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses a group of teachers in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)
In this photo from May 2, 2016, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses a group of teachers in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader said Thursday that US President Donald Trump’s “cheap, ugly, foolish and unreal” remarks before the UN General Assembly earlier this week were a sign of desperation.

In his debut address to the UN on Tuesday, Trump called Iran a “corrupt dictatorship” and a “murderous regime,” and said the landmark nuclear agreement Tehran reached with the US and other world powers was “an embarrassment to the United States,” strongly hinting he might pull out of the deal.

In a meeting with a clerical assembly, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said such comments “do not come from power, but from anger, desperation and weak-mindedness.”

Khamenei has the final say on all major policies in Iran.

On Wednesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani derided Trump as a “rogue newcomer” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the leader of a “rogue and racist regime,” and vowed that Tehran would respond “decisively and resolutely” if the Iran nuclear deal is remade or canceled.

In an address to the UN General Assembly, Rouhani also castigated “the ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric” delivered before the Assembly on Tuesday — when Trump and Netanyahu spoke — saying the speeches were “filled with ridiculously baseless allegations.”

Rouhani declared that the Iranian nuclear deal, since it was backed by the international community and endorsed by the UN, could not be legitimately scrapped or amended, as Netanyahu demanded Tuesday and as Trump has indicated he is considering.

“I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any parter,” he pledged.

Turning to Trump, he said, “It would be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics… The world will have lost a great opportunity.”

Later Wednesday, Rouhani said the Iranian people were waiting for an apology from Trump for his “extremely offensive” rhetoric and “unfounded” allegations about Iran.

Rouhani said Trump on Tuesday “was extremely offensive to the people of Iran and before anything, we are waiting for Mr. Trump to issue an apology to the people of Iran.”

The Iranian leader also told reporters that “if the United States government exits the nuclear agreement, undoubtedly it will be condemned by the American people themselves, and before that by the European Union and all countries throughout the world.”

And if the Trump administration believes its pullout “will bring pressure on Iran, then you can say they are completely and absolutely mistaken,” he said.

“The exiting of the United States of America from the JCPOA will not benefit them in the slightest,” Rouhani said. “The position of Iran throughout the world will be stronger and better than before, and the government of the United States, under the pressure of public sentiments from throughout the world, will not see any benefit.”

Rouhani also repeated several times that “there will be absolutely no changes — no alterations” to the agreement. And he said Iran will not accept any “preconditions or conditions” to keep the United States in the deal.

Asked whether the agreement could survive without the US, he said, “it’s a bit early or premature to hold discussions about such questions,” adding that the “Europeans want to preserve it.”

On Monday, a day before Trump’s speech at the UN, the US president said that the US “cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.”

“The Iran deal is one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into to. Frankly, that deal was an embarrassment to the US,” Trump added, echoing previous criticism of the deal.

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