Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (pictured), leading Tehran Friday Prayers, has threatened Israeli cities with destruction if Israel “acts foolishly” towards Iran.
Khatami issued the challenge three days after Donald Trump withdrew the US from the July 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, and a day after Israel struck Iranian and Assad regime positions inside Syria:
The holy system of the Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.
His audience responded with chants of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”
Later in the day, thousands of people demonstrated across Iran to protect the Trump Administration’s departure from the deal between the Islamic Republic and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia).
The marches were loud but orderly, as the Rouhani Government continues its approach of remaining in the deal as long as there is the hope of European economic links — essential to Iran’s economic future — as well as political support.
In a statement yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif repeated that Iran will try to save the deal through negotiations with the European Union and the three European signatories. If this cannot be accomplished, Iran will resume its nuclear program, including enrichment of 20% uranium and research of new nuclear centrifuges, Zarif added.
Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Europe should not accept the US as the “world’s economic policeman”:
Do we want to be vassals who obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their trousers? Or do we want to say we have our economic interests, we consider we will continue to do trade with Iran?
European Union foreign policy head Federica Mogherini also chided Washington, “This deal is not a bilateral treaty. It’s a UN Security Council Resolution and it belongs to the entire world.”
Zarif will meet Mogherini and the Germany, French, and British Foreign Ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.
But in a sign that Iranian hardliners are splitting from the Government over the pursuit of Europe, Tehran prayer leader Khatami criticized politicians who are looking to the Europeans to preserve the nuclear agreement, saying they have broken promises and had not invested in Iran after the nuclear accord.
He told his audience not to make deals with foreigners “since they cannot be trusted”.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Leader said Europe must provide “a guarantee” to the Islamic Republic that it will fulfil Iran’s political and economic requirements under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.