Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has belittled U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his tough stance toward Iran will fail like efforts by his hard-line predecessor, Ronald Reagan.
"Reagan was more powerful and smarter than Trump. He was a better actor in making threats. He also moved against us and shot down our plane," Khamenei said in a series of tweets and in a televised speech on December 27.
In 1988, a U.S. warship shot down an Iranian passenger plane over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 aboard, in an incident that Washington said was a mistake. Tehran said it was a deliberate attack on Iran, which was then at war with neighboring Iraq.
"But Reagan is gone and, according to our beliefs, he now faces God's retribution...while Iran has made great advances in all areas since Reagan's time," Khamenei said.
"This trend will continue under the current U.S. president, and any hopes on their part that the Islamic republic would back off or weaken is futile."
Trump has called Iran, where Khamenei has final say over government policies, a "dictatorship," and his administration has imposed a series of tough new sanctions over Iran's ballistic-missile activities, which the United States maintains violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The administration also accuses Iran of arming Yemen's Shi'ite Huthi rebels in their war against Yemen's Saudi-backed government -- a charge Tehran denies.
After providing what the administration said was evidence that Iran manufactured the missiles the Huthi rebels shot at Saudi Arabia this year, the United States recently called on the United Nations to impose new sanctions on Tehran for violating UN arms embargoes.
Khamenei in his speech expressed satisfaction that what he said were the true feelings of the United States toward Iran have been laid bare under Trump, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said.
In the past, U.S. officials sought to fool Iran by hiding their true feelings, Khamenei said.
Khamenei also lashed out at Trump for recently recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- a move later condemned in a rare vote by the United Nations.
With reporting by Reuters, The Times of Israel, and The Hill