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Defiant Khamenei Harshly Criticizes US Pullout From JCPOA

An Iranian military truck carries surface-to-air missiles past a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade on the occasion of the country's annual army day in Tehran, April 18, 2018

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has harshly reacted to the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran in strongly worded remarks published on his official website on Wednesday May 9.

Describing President Donald Trump’s pullout statement as “vulgar and commonplace,” Khamenei said, “The US President lied at least 10 times in his statement and threatened both the Iranian nation and the country’s political establishment,” adding, “On behalf of the Iranian nation, I would like to say, you cannot do anything Mr. Trump.”

Khamenei reiterated that he knew that “accepting the nuclear deal would not end America’s enmity.”

He likened some Persian Gulf political leaders to “America’s slaves,” adding that Iran does not want to be like them.

“The US wishes to tell the Islamic Republic what to do, but the Iranians are an independent nation and Americans cannot stand this,” Khamenei said.

He also repeated a position Iranian hardliners occasionally express, saying that previous US administrations behaved in the same way but the Islamic Republic would live longer than all US presidents would.

The media, as well as other Iranian officials also reacted critically to the news of the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The first official to react was President Hassan Rouhani who went on live TV almost immediately after Trump’s statement on Tuesday. Rouhani stressed that Iran will stay in the JCPOA with EU partners, Russia and China.

Speaker of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) Ali Larijani characterized President Trump’s speech as “a political show” and said his words were “uncalculated and vulgar.” Speaking at the Majles on Wednesday May 9, Larijani added that the Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization should be prepared to resume nuclear activity, reported Tasnim News agency.

Chairman of the Majles Foreign Policy and national Security Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the Parliament is ready to approve a budget to boost Iran’s military forces and missile program.

Other Iranian reactions to the development were often sarcastic.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari congratulated the nation on the United States’ withdrawal from the deal, stressing that the development would not leave any detrimental impact on Iran’s national interests, reported ISNA.

ISNA also reported that Iranian Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi thanked God for Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. Mousavi said that the biggest loss Iran has incurred from the nuclear deal was legitimizing the US government by accepting to negotiate with them.

On the media front, reformist and other pro-Rouhani newspapers praised Rouhani’s decision to remain in the JCPOA with European partners, Russia and China, but hardline daily Kayhan, close to Khamenei, borrowed language from previous Trump and Khamenei speeches, and opined that now that the US has shredded the JCPOA, it is time to set the deal on fire. Another hardline daily, Vatane Emrouz headlined its report on US pullout as “The end of nothing.”

Pro-Rouhani newspapers largely played down the significance of the US pullout. Administration-owned daily Iran, and reformist daily Etemad characterized the US as “a hindrance” to furthering the JCPOA and welcomed its withdrawal.