Power: Khamenei’s comments 'abhorrent'

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha PowerSamantha PowerThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report House Intel panel interviews Rice in Russia probe MORE said Thursday that she condemned as "abhorrent" comments by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called Israel a "rabid dog."

Powers's comment came amid criticism that a senior U.S. official on Wednesday had stopped short of condemning the comments amid high-stakes negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.

"Let me, obviously, condemn the comments of the Ayatollah, which are abhorrent," Power told CNN's "New Day." "What I will say is that we have decades of mistrust, partly on the basis of comments like this, partly on the basis of the continued steady progress toward a nuclear weapon. And that's why we're in the negotiations in the first place, right, is to ensure that a regime like that does not acquire a nuclear weapon, pose a threat not only to Israel but to the broader region and to mankind."

In an address to the Basij paramilitary force on Wednesday, Khamenei made the disparaging comment toward Israel and accused the U.S. of launching its nuclear attack on Japan after the country had already surrendered in World War II.

Asked about the comments later in the day, a senior U.S. official stopped short of a condemnation.

“Of course I don’t ever like it when people use rhetoric that in any way talks about the U.S. in ways that I find very uncomfortable and not warranted whatsoever,” the official told reporters in Geneva, according to BuzzFeed.

The official's remarks stood in contrast to a statement from France, which condemned the remarks and said they complicated nuclear talks.

Khamenei did express support for the nuclear negotiations in Geneva, which continue Thursday.