Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei was blasted on Friday by President Donald Trump after Khamenei decided to attack Trump directly on Twitter over Trump’s advocacy for the Iranian people.
Khamenei made his remarks in response to a tweet from Trump on January 11, which stated: “To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage.”
Khamenei responded: “The villainous US govt repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian ppl. They lie. If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers. Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail.”
Trump responded to Khamenei by quote retweeting him and writing: “The noble people of Iran—who love America—deserve a government that’s more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect. Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again!”
The noble people of Iran—who love America—deserve a government that's more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect. Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again! https://t.co/RLjGsC5WLc
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
In a separate tweet, Trump added: “The so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe. Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!”
The so-called “Supreme Leader” of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe. Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
The New York Times said in a recent report that the Trump administration’s sanctions again Iran, which is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, have devastated the country and have limited Iran’s ability to respond to aggression from the U.S.:
Iran is caught in a wretched economic crisis. Jobs are scarce. Prices for food and other necessities are skyrocketing. The economy is rapidly shrinking. Iranians are increasingly disgusted.
Crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration have severed Iran’s access to international markets, decimating the economy, which is now contracting at an alarming 9.5 percent annual rate, the International Monetary Fund estimated. Oil exports were effectively zero in December, according to Oxford Economics, as the sanctions have prevented sales, even though smugglers have transported unknown volumes.
The bleak economy appears to be tempering the willingness of Iran to escalate hostilities with the United States, its leaders cognizant that war could profoundly worsen national fortunes. In recent months, public anger over joblessness, economic anxiety and corruption has emerged as a potentially existential threat to Iran’s hard-line regime.
Pressure against Iran has rapidly increased over the last week after it admitted that it shot down a passenger plane, killing 176 people, and after Britain, France and Germany notified Iran that they were taking action to clamp down on Iran’s accelerating aggression, which violates the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom said in a joint statement on Tuesday:
Following Iran’s announcement in May 2019 that it would cease meeting some of its commitments under the JCPoA, we have sought to persuade Iran to change course. The E3 have worked hard to address Iran’s concerns and bring it back into compliance with its commitments under the nuclear agreement. We have also undertaken and supported diplomatic efforts, such as France’s initiative, to deescalate tensions and to bring Iran and the US to the negotiating table for a comprehensive negotiated solution. The E3 remain fully committed to this diplomatic effort and intend to resume it as soon as conditions allow.
However, in the meantime Iran has continued to break key restrictions set out in the JCPoA. Iran’s actions are inconsistent with the provisions of the nuclear agreement and have increasingly severe and non-reversible proliferation implications.
We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA. Contrary to its statements, Iran has never triggered the JCPoA Dispute Resolution Mechanism and has no legal grounds to cease implementing the provisions of the agreement.
We publicly stated our concerns, along with the High Representative of the European Union, on 11 November. At the Joint Commission on 6 December, we made clear to Iran that unless it reversed course, we would have no choice but to take action within the framework of the JCPoA, including through the Dispute Resolution Mechanism.
Instead of reversing course, Iran has chosen to further reduce compliance with the JCPoA and announced on 5 January that “the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the fifth step in reducing its commitments, discards the last key component of its limitations in the JCPOA, which is the ‘limit on the number of centrifuges’”, and that “the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program no longer faces any operational restrictions”, including on enrichment and enrichment-related matters.
We have therefore been left with no choice, given Iran’s actions, but to register today our concerns that Iran is not meeting its commitments under the JCPoA and to refer this matter to the Joint Commission under the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the JCPoA.
The Trump administration launched new sanctions against Iran this last week in response to Iran firing missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq.
“First, the President is issuing an executive order authorizing the imposition of additional sanctions against any individual owning, operating, trading with, or assisting sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a White House press conference. “And let me be clear: These will be both primary and secondary sanctions. The EO also allows us to designate other sectors in the future as Secretary Pompeo and me think is appropriate.”
“Second, we are announcing 17 specific sanctions against Iran’s largest steel and iron manufacturers, three Seychelles-based entities, and a vessel involved in the transfer of products,” Mnuchin said. “As a result of these actions, we will cut off billions of dollars of support to the Iranian regime, and we will continue our enforcement of other entities.”
“Third, we are taking action against eight senior Iranian officials who advanced the regime’s destabilizing activity and were involved in Tuesday’s ballistic missile strike,” Mnuchin concluded. “Today’s sanctions are part of our commitment to stop the Iranian regime’s global terrorist activities. The President has been very clear: We will continue to apply economic sanctions until Iran stops its terrorist activities and commit that it will never have nuclear weapons.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.