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Khamenei mocks US ‘fiasco,’ says it’s God’s revenge for meddling in Middle East

Iran’s supreme leader also says Tehran wants US to first lift sanctions before any return to nuclear commitments; Revolutionary Guard unveils new underground missile base

In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday mocked the turmoil in the US after a violent mob loyal to US President Donald Trump overran the Capitol building in Washington, calling it God’s revenge for American interference in the Middle East.

During a 50-minute speech, Khamenei addressed the transition of power in the US by calling American politics a “fiasco.”

“This is their democracy; this is their elections’ situation,” Khamenei said, smirking, during his address.

“Have you seen the situation in the US? This is their democracy and this is their election fiasco,” he also tweeted. “Today, the US & ‘American values’ are ridiculed even by their friends.”

He said the US was being paid back for inciting tensions in Iran in 2009, after its election.

“The US openly says its interests require instability in this region. The US wanted to start a civil war in Iran in 2009, & now God has afflicted them with the same predicament in 2021,” he wrote. “The recent chaos reached a point where Congress members had to escape through secret tunnels.”

Khamenei also said Iran is in no hurry to see the US return to a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers after Joe Biden takes office this month.

The Iranian leader said it was not a question of “whether the United States returns or not,” it was a matter of it lifting its unilateral sanctions.

“We are in no rush and we are not insisting on their return. Our demand, which is both logical and rational, is the lifting of sanctions” that outgoing US President Donald Trump imposed after quitting the deal in 2018.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic republic escalated decades-old tensions between the sworn enemies.

Biden, who is set to replace Trump on January 20, has signaled a willingness to return the United States to the deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The US president-elect has indicated that he wants to negotiate more broadly with Tehran after Washington returns to the deal, notably over its missiles and influence across the Middle East.

Khamenei said Iran could welcome the return of the Americans to the JCPOA, but only after they lift sanctions.

“We are talking about a right which has been stolen from the Iranian nation,” the supreme leader said in the televised speech.

“If the sanctions are lifted, the return of the Americans makes sense.”

Missile base unveiled

Khamenei’s remarks came shortly after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled one of its “strategic missile bases” located on the “shores of the Persian Gulf,” according to the Guards’ Sepahnews website.

In his speech, the supreme leader reiterated Iran’s position that the missile program was developed to “defend” the country against any threats from outside.

In this photo released Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles on mobile truck launchers are displayed during an inauguration of a new military base in an undisclosed location in the Persian Gulf in Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)

Since 2019, Iran has gradually suspended the implementation of most of its key obligations under the nuclear deal, which set strict limits on its activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Other parties to the agreement, notably Britain, France and Germany, have pressed Iran to return to its commitments in a bid to rescue the deal, but Iran has repeatedly demanded that the United States first lift its crippling sanctions or help it circumvent them.

“When the other party meets practically none of its obligations, it is not logical for the Islamic republic to honor all of its commitments,” Khamenei said.

“If they return to their commitments, we will return to ours.”

Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions deprived Iran of the benefits it expected from the JCPOA by driving away foreign investors and reducing foreign trade, plunging the country into a deep recession.

In this photo released Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, by Sepahnews, the website of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles are displayed during an inauguration of a new military base in an undisclosed location in the Persian Gulf in Iran. (Sepahnews via AP)

Iran has retaliated by gradually reducing its commitments to the deal.

It announced this week that it resumed enriching uranium to 20 percent purity — well below the 90 percent required to make an atomic bomb.

The decision was taken by Iran’s parliament, rather than President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate-reformist government, which has shown a willingness to engage with the incoming US administration.

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