This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
ranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has responded to criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump by declaring that the United States supports “dictators, butchers, and extremists” in the Middle East.
Zarif issued the statement in a Twitter post on February 6 in response to remarks made by Trump in his State of the Union speech.
Tensions have been on the rise between Tehran and Washington since Trump in May pulled out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
“U.S. hostility has led it to support dictators, butchers & extremists, who’ve only brought ruin to our region,” Zarif tweeted.
Iranians—including our Jewish compatriots—are commemorating 40 yrs of progress despite US pressure, just as @realDonaldTrump again makes accusations against us @ #SOTU2019. US hostility has led it to support dictators, butchers & extremists, who’ve only brought ruin to our region
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 6, 2019
Trump, in his address before Congress, defended his decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Tehran, which had lifted crippling sanctions in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear ambitions. Trump later announced new sanctions on the country.
Trump called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and said his administration had acted decisively to confront it.
“It is a radical regime. They do bad, bad things,” Trump said. “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants ‘death to America’ and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.”
But Zarif countered by saying that Iran, including its Jewish community, was “commemorating 40 years of progress” as it prepares to celebrate four decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 11.
Top Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rohani, have said that the Islamic republic is facing its toughest economic situation in 40 years, at least partially due to the resumption of U.S. sanctions.