Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday used his first public appearance in weeks to suggest the United States would remain hostile towards the Islamic Republic even after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Speaking at his first public function since rumours surfaced in early December that his health was deteriorating, Khamenei said Washington could not be trusted - a remark indicating a wary attitude towards President Donald Trump’s successor.
In a meeting with organisers of events to mark the first anniversary of the killing of military commander General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. attack in Iraq, Khamenei said American antagonism would not disappear with the end of the Trump administration.
“My firm recommendation is not to trust the enemy,” Khamenei said in remarks carried by state TV.
“The hostility (against Iran) is not just from Trump’s America, which supposedly some could say would end when he leaves, as (President Barack) Obama’s America also did bad things to the Iranian nation.”
Biden was Obama’s vice president.
Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers in 2018 and imposed new sanctions. Biden’s coming to power has raised the possibility that Washington could rejoin the agreement.
Some hardline Iranian officials and lawmakers close to Khamenei have questioned President Hassan Rouhani’s stand that a revival of the deal may lead to a lifting of sanctions. But Khamenei said he was not opposed to government efforts towards that end.
“If the sanctions can be lifted, we should not delay even one hour...If the sanctions can be lifted in the right, wise... and dignified way, this must be done,” he said, addressing government officials.
Earlier, Rouhani said he was happy Trump was leaving office, calling him “the most lawless U.S. president” and a “murderer” for hampering Iran’s access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“We are not overjoyed about Mr. Biden’s arrival, but we are happy about Trump leaving … that such a terrorist and murderer, who does not even have mercy for coronavirus vaccines, will be gone,” Rouhani said in a televised speech to the cabinet.