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Iran’s Khamenei promises to ‘slap’ US, defeat sanctions

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Meng Tao/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Iran will “slap” the United States by defeating U.S. sanctions targeting the country’s economy.

“With the grace of God, we will defeat sanctions. And the defeat of sanctions is the defeat of America,” Khamenei said on October 4 in a speech at Tehran’s Azadi stadium.

Tensions have been escalating between Iran and the United States following a May decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The U.S. administration last month started reimposing sanctions on the Iranian economy that were lifted under the deal in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program. A second round of penalties targeting Iran’s oil exports is due to come into effect in early November.

The U.S. moves sent Iran’s economy into a downward spiral with the national currency, the rial, hitting record lows.

In his speech to tens of thousands of members of the paramilitary Basij force and senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Khamenei said the United States “must receive another slap from the people of Iran with the defeat of sanctions.”

He acknowledged that the situation of the Iranian people was “sensitive,” citing “the economic problems of the nation and the tightness of the livelihood of a large portion of the weak people in the country.”

But the supreme leader insisted that “economic sanctions are more fragile than our national economy.”

The Iranian leader also renewed his warning against those who are calling for negotiations with the United States, saying that such calls amounted to “treason.”

“The enemy wants the nation to conclude that the only solution is to surrender to the United States,” Khamenei said.

Tehran has challenged the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions in a case filed in July at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing that it breaches a decades-old friendship treaty between the two countries.

The Hague court agreed with Tehran in a preliminary ruling issued on October 3 and ordered the United States to ease the sanctions it reimposed on Iran earlier this year.

The United States reacted by announcing it was canceling the 1955 Treaty of Amity between Washington and Tehran, saying that the ICJ ruling demonstrated its “absolute absurdity.”

The 1955 treaty called for “friendly relations” between Iran and the United States, encouraged mutual trade and investment, regulated diplomatic ties, and granted the ICJ jurisdiction over disputes.

It was signed at a time of close relations between Washington and Tehran, long before the 1979 revolution brought about decades of hostility between the two.