This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said the slogan “Death to America” is directed at U.S. President Donald Trump and other U.S. decision-makers, not the American nation.
“‘Death to America’ means death to Trump, [national security adviser] John Bolton, and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo. It means death to American rulers,” Khamenei said in a February 8 speech to a gathering of Iranian Army Air Force officers marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
The slogan is regularly chanted at state-organized rallies and events, including Friday Prayers.
“It means death to the few people running that country. We have nothing against the American nation,” Khamenei added, according to his official website.
Khamenei said Iran will not give up the “Death To America” chant as long as Washington continues its hostile policies toward Tehran.
“As long as America continues its wickedness, interference, and savagery, the Iranian nation will not abandon ‘Death to America,'” added Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters in the Islamic republic.
Tensions have been on the rise between Iran and the United States following Trump’s decision to pull out of a landmark nuclear deal and reimpose tough economic sanctions.
European signatories of the 2015 deal, under which Tehran pledged to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, have been trying to save the accord, but Khamenei said they could not be trusted.
“I recommend that one should not trust the Europeans, just as the Americans,” Khamenei said. “We don’t say, don’t have contacts with them, but it’s an issue of trust.”
Britain, France, and Germany recently unveiled a mechanism that allows firms to trade with Iran without falling foul of U.S. sanctions as a means to supporting “legitimate trade” with Iran.
The move has been welcomed by the European Union, which has criticized Iran over its “destabilizing” ballistic-missile program, its “hostile activities” in several EU member states, and its meddling in countries in the Middle East.