'Unprecedented' US sanctions are pressuring Iran

  • 'Unprecedented' US sanctions are pressuring Iran

'Unprecedented' US sanctions are pressuring Iran

Escalating a tit-for-tat exchange of rhetorical sniping, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Trump administration officials "first class idiots" during a speech on USA sanctions.

Khamenei, speaking to a group from Iran's religious capital of Qom, made the remark while recounting a story about a US official once predicting he'd celebrate Christmas in Iran.

He referenced a USA official who had purportedly said that he would celebrate Christmas in Iran. "Of course, I don't agree with that, but they are first-class idiots", he said in speech in Tehran, quoted on his official Twitter feed.

It was unclear which USA official Khamenei was referring to, but members of the Trump administration have called for regime change and predicted it would happen soon.

He did not name the official but national security adviser John Bolton told a meeting of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq in March 2018 that "before 2019, we here ... will celebrate in Iran".

Khamenei made the comments while speaking in Qom, the religious capital of Iran.

These comments indicate that the United States is likely planning more sanctions on Iran and also upping its pressure on Europe not to offer the Islamic Republic any breathing space. On Tuesday, the USA top diplomat threatened that America would double down on commercial and diplomatic efforts in the coming weeks to "put real pressure on Iran".

In November, the Trump administration announced that it was reimposing every sanction on Iran that had been lifted under the Obama administration. However, Trump's decision last year to withdraw from the nuclear deal has seen the 79-year-old cleric grow increasingly critical. "Yes, they're unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, God willing", said Khamenei on Wednesday, according to Iran's state website. In 2017, he criticized President Donald Trump for calling Iran a "terrorist" nation.

The remarks came as tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since US President Donald Trump walked away from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in May and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.