Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – who famously waited three months before offering a tepid endorsement of the JCPOA – largely echoed the threats of other Iranian government officials when he said Wednesday that Iran would adhere to the terms of the deal if other world powers respected it, but would “shred it” if the US were to pull out.
Speaking publicly about the future of the deal for the first time since President Donald Trump refused to decertify it five days ago, Khamenei confirmed that Iran would likely terminate the deal – and restart its nuclear program – if the US Congress decides to unilaterally rule that Iran is not in compliance, opening the door to reimposing sanctions.
The ayatollah’s proclamation puts Iran at odds with the deals other signatories, who’ve maintained that the US doesn’t have the power to terminate a multilateral accord certified by the United Nations. Khamenei welcomed the support of the other signers – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union – but said it would not be enough to convince Iran to stay, Reuters reported.
“Europe must stand against practical measures (taken) by America,” he said. If Trump ditched the deal, “Iran will shred it”.
US lawmakers and President Donald Trump are presently pushing for a bill that would recertify the deal with one important caveat: Iran would be subject to “triggers” – like continued ballistic missile tests or evidence that it could build a nuclear weapon within a year’s time. Violating these conditions would lead to sanctions automatically being reimposed.
However, Khamenei also vowed to continue Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the country claims is strictly for defensive purposes, suggesting that Iran wouldn’t brook the additional restrictions being considered by the US Congress.
"Or to ask why Iran has missiles – well, why do you have missiles? Why do you have nuclear weapons? We will not accept the Europeans going along with America's bullying."
The ayatollah also dismissed Trump's attacks on Iran as "rants and whoppers", adding that Iran will continue to abide by its commitments under the nuclear deal.
"I don't want to waste my time on answering the rants and whoppers of the brute US president," Khamenei said in a speech to students in Tehran, published on his Telegram channel.
The ayatollah insisted that ultimately Iran would prevail in its struggle against the US, adding that it would be unwise to underestimate the threat posed by the US because of Trump’s buffoonish persona.
"Everyone be assured that this time, too, America will be slapped and defeated by the nation of Iran."
Khamenei said the world should not be fooled by Trump's public persona.
"The US president displays stupidity, but this should not cause us to ignore America's mischief," he said.
The Trump administration has pushed for a more aggressive approach to Iran’s missile program, repeatedly insisting that, while Iran is technically complying with the terms of the pact, it is more broadly violating the “spirit” of the agreement by continuing to test missiles and (allegedly) fund terrorist groups, AFP reported.
While the US has worked itself into a lather over the Iranian missile program, the regime amusingly “punked” their American adversaries last month when they tested what was purported to be a new type of medium range ballistic missile. Intelligence sources initially trusted the Iranian media reports, but later government sources determined that Iran had never actually fired a missile, and that the footage was from a failed launch seven months ago.
On Monday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Monday that the US would face stiff consequences if it withdraws from the JCPA – informally known as the Iran deal. He added that Iran "had a developed plan and a certain law,” should the United States withdraw from the agreement on Tehran's nuclear program, adding that Washington would "regret it."