Khamenei says Iran won’t budge despite fresh US sanctions
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Khamenei says Iran won’t budge despite fresh US sanctions

As war of words escalates and after White House targets top officials, supreme leader blasts ‘sinister’ American government

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a gathering of the Basij, an all-volunteer force under the Revolutionary Guard, in Tehran, October 4, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a gathering of the Basij, an all-volunteer force under the Revolutionary Guard, in Tehran, October 4, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said Iranians would not budge or change their stance following the new US sanctions targeting him and his associates.

The top Iranian cleric’s website on Wednesday quoted Khamenei as calling Donald Trump’s administration “the most sinister” US government.

Khamenei was also quoted as saying that “the most hated figures of such an administration accuse and insult the Iranian nation.”

“[The] Iranian nation will not budge and will not withdraw because of the insults,” he said.

Khamenei made the remarks as Tehran and Washington were in the midst of an escalating war of words following Iran shooting down a US drone last week.

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on June 22, 2019, before boarding Marine One for the trip to Camp David in Maryland. (AP/Susan Walsh)

US President Donald Trump on Monday enacted the new sanctions against Khamenei and others. US officials also said they plan sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The sanctions followed Iran’s downing last week of a US surveillance drone, worth over $100 million, over the Strait of Hormuz, sharply escalating the crisis.

Trump said he pulled back from retaliatory strikes on Iran at the last minute, rejecting Tehran’s claim that the aircraft was in its airspace.

But pressure mounted this week with Trump announcing sanctions on Khamenei and other top officials.

The new measures are the latest against Tehran since Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a ceremony at Imam Khomeini International Airport, south of the capital Tehran on June 18, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought to rein in soaring tensions between the two countries, telling his French counterpart that Iran was not seeking war with the US.

“Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US,” the president told Emmanuel Macron, according to state news agency IRNA.

Rouhani blamed the United States for regional tensions and said if Washington had stuck to the deal “we would have witnessed positive developments in the region.”

Iran announced in May it would suspend two of its pledges under the 2015 deal, giving the agreement’s remaining supporters two months to help it circumvent US sanctions.

On Tuesday Tehran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, said Iran would “forcefully” reduce further commitments from July 7.

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