Iran’s supreme leader has called U.S. officials “first-class idiots,” mocking American leaders as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tours the Mideast.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments on Wednesday were unusually harsh, reflecting broader tensions between Iran and the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Khamenei also recounted a story about a U.S. official who once predicted he would celebrate Christmas in Iran.
Khamenei said: “Some U.S. officials pretend that they are mad. Of course I don’t agree with that, but they are first-class idiots.”
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The supreme leader did not name the official. However, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told a meeting of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq last March that “before 2019, we here ... will celebrate in Iran.”
U.S. sanctions are putting unprecedented pressure on Iranians, Khamenei also said on Wednesday.
Trump last year pulled out of an international pact on Iran's nuclear program and re-imposed sanctions intended to scupper Tehran's oil exports, curb its missile program and clip its regional influence.
The measures have hit Iran's economy hard.
"The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people," Khamenei said, according to a transcript on his website of a speech in Tehran to commemorate an event from the 1979 revolution.
"The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history. Yes, they're unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, God willing," he added.
Iran's economy has faced instability in recent months with the rial fluctuating in value, making it difficult for ordinary people to make ends meet.
Sporadic protests linked to the tough economic situation have been led by truck drivers, farmers, workers, merchants and teachers, occasionally resulting in violent confrontations with security forces.
The Iranian government must help the country's weakest, Khamenei added in his speech.