Supreme Leader: “We do not want to start a fight with [Europeans], but based on their past records, we don’t trust them either.”
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Iran’s Supreme Leader has added a cartoon flourish to a likely confrontation with the US, saying the Trump Administration will fail like “the cat in Tom and Jerry”.
Ayatollah Khamenei put out his latest statement of defiance on Wednesday, two weeks after Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia) and two days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a list of 12 demands to Tehran over its nuclear program and activities in the Middle East:
From the beginning of the Revolution to the present day, the United States has carried out various types of hostilities to undermine the Islamic Republic and has organized various types of political, economic, military and propaganda activities against it….
All their plots have failed…just like Tom from the well-known Tom and Jerry cartoon; and they will fail again in the future.
Khamenei also invoked George W. Bush, the neoconservatives, and Ronald Reagan as failures and said that, like them, the Trump Administration will be lost in history.
Another Warning to Europe
With the Trump Administration set on a pursuit of regime change in Tehran, Khamenei’s substantive message was directed at the European powers whose cooperation is vital not only for the nuclear deal but for Iran’s fragile economy.
The Rouhani Government is pursuing an approach which encourages cooperation with the European Union and its members to avert the deal’s collapse, but the Supreme Leader has taken a harder line, expressing distrust and demanding “guarantees” from the Europeans.
He repeated on Wednesday:
European banks should safeguard trade with the Islamic Republic. We do not want to start a fight with these three countries [France, Germany and UK], but based on their past records, we don’t trust them either.
Over the course of 2 years, US violated #JCPOA, several times, while the Europeans remained silent. These 3 European countries should prove that they won’t be as dishonest & untrustworthy as they were during nuclear talks in 2004-2005. Europe needs to compensate for it: pic.twitter.com/QIRKAebB5U
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 23, 2018
Khamenei focused on the oil industry, where analysts believe Iran’s current export level of about 2.5 million barrels per day could fall to 1.5 million bpd under the weight of US sanctions: “Europe should fully guarantee Iran’s oil sales. In case Americans can damage our oil sales….Europeans should make up for that and buy Iranian oil.”
Existing US sanctions already threaten any foreign bank or company with an American link, if it pursues trade and investment with Iran. The expanded sanctions authorized by Trump demand that firms and financial institutions suspend their existing ties, including with the Islamic Republic’s energy and banking sectors, by November.
The Supreme Leader warned Europe that it must stand up to the US: “If the Europeans hesitate to respond to our demands, Iran reserves the right to restart its suspended nuclear activities.”
Those activities would include enrichment of 20% uranium — which potentially can be enriched further to military-grade 95% — and development of advanced centrifuges.
Khamenei also knocked back the European effort to save the deal through amendments, such as the extension of time limits on enrichment and centrifuges, and a separate accord on Iran’s ballistic missile program: “Europe must guarantee it will not raise the issue of the Islamic Republic’s missiles and regional affairs.”