Tehran, Iran – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reiterated that Iran will not give in to United States pressure in exchange for sanctions relief.
In an hour-long televised address to the nation on Sunday to mark the start of the new Persian year, he said the “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions – which he called a “major crime” committed by “that previous fool” President Donald Trump – has failed.
“He [Trump] went away in that infamous way, bringing disgrace to his country,” Khamenei said. “They must know ‘maximum pressure’ has failed so far, and if the current US administration wants to continue, it will also fail.”
Trump unilaterally abandoned Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and said Iran must renegotiate the deal in order to have sanctions lifted.
The administration of Joe Biden has said it wants to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known, but says Iran must first come back into full compliance with the accord before sanctions are lifted. Iran has gradually scaled back its adherence to the deal since 2019, one year after the US withdrawal.
Khamenei reiterated what he has called the country’s “definitive policy” on the nuclear deal: The US must first lift all sanctions, after which Iran will reverse its steps to boost uranium enrichment and install cascades of new centrifuges, among other moves.
He said Iran rushed into the JCPOA, agreed to with the US, China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany during the presidency of Barack Obama since it implemented all its commitments while the US only lifted sanctions “on paper”.
Therefore, he added that Iran is now “in no hurry” to have sanctions lifted since it is in the process of “nullifying” them through relying on local production.
The supreme leader on Saturday chose “production, support, and removal of barriers” as the slogan for the new year, extending his theme of self-reliance in the face of external pressure.
Khamenei on Sunday also alluded to comments earlier this month by US Deputy Secretary of State nominee Wendy Sherman, who said “the facts on the ground have changed, the geopolitics of the region have changed, and the way forward must similarly change” in reference to the JCPOA.
“I also agree, yes. Conditions have changed, but they changed in favour of Iran, not the US,” he said. “So if anything, the JCPOA must change in favour of Iran.”
He also directly addressed potential candidates for the upcoming Iranian presidential elections in June, telling them not to link lifting sanctions with economic development.
“Presume sanctions will remain in place. Make plans for the economy with sanctions,” the supreme leader warned.