The Supreme Leader, speaking to students on the eve of November 4 — the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy — is putting out a firm message:

At the same time, the Supreme Leader maintained his support for the Rouhani Government’s pursuit of a nuclear agreement, while saying he is “not optimistic“.

Ayatollah Khamenei declared that the context for talks is “far different from 2003. Then we had two or three centrifuges. Now we have thousands.”

Persisting with “Down with America”

With its policy of engagement and amid nuclear talks, the Rouhani Government may be wanting to put away the slogan “Down with America”, but some within the regime are not ready to comply.

Just before November 4, the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy, hardliners are re-asserting the challenge to Washington.

Last month, leading figures called for a halt to the well-known chant at Tehran Friday Prayers. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, a close ally of the Government, even said that Ayatollah Khomeini had renounced the phrase just before his death in 1989.

See Iran Analysis: Tehran To Host 1st “Down With America!” Award
Iran Spotlight: Getting Rid Of “Death to America

However, on Friday, Cleric Hamid Rouhani, the Head of the Foundation for the Encyclopedia of the Islamic Revolution, asserted:

It is the enemies’ plot that some have dreamed that the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] was against Death to America. Are we in a leaderless state where some can dream and say that the Imam was against Death to America? The Supreme Leader does not allow these memories.

Down with America is rooted in the Qur’an.

Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, the Cultural Advisor to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, maintained, “Down with America has no negative effect on the negotiations process, but it is capital for the Iranian negotiators and diplomats.”

And this morning, Fars News — the Guards’ media outlet — goes farther with a quote from the Supreme Leader’s representative to the IRGC, Ali Saeedi: “The ‘Death to US’ slogan cannot be discarded.”

The site links the phrase with a punch at Rouhani’s pursuit of a nuclear agreement, claiming that Saeedi then said, “The Supreme Leader asked related officials to go ahead on the basis of heroic flexibility, but lies and deceit by the US and its proxies came in response.”