Iran's supreme leader said Saturday the United States “wouldn’t hesitate a moment” to overthrow the current Iranian leadership if it could.
The remarks, reported by Iranian media, eschewed compromise with the U.S. at a time when world leaders are trying to work out a long-term deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“American officials publicly say they do not seek regime change in Iran,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Fars, a semi-official news outlet. “That's a lie. They wouldn't hesitate a moment if they could do it.”
Khamenei, the highest-ranking official in the country, spoke in front of Iranian Air Force commanders on the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. He said the United States is attempting to undermine Iran’s sovereignty and later mentioned the nuclear deal with the U.S.
“Independence is a dam against the influence of those countries which intend to overshadow nations’ interests for the sake of their own interests,” he said.
Iran's Ahlul Bayt News Agency reported on Saturday that “[t]he Leader [Khamenei] emphasized that compromise with arrogant powers will lead to nowhere" and stated that "interventionist powers seek to put autocratic puppets at the helm.”
An interim deal to curb the Islamic republic’s nuclear enrichment program went into effect in January. In return for the drawdown, the U.S. would loosen some of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran.
World leaders have said that they are optimistic that a long-term nuclear deal could be completed within the next six months, but there are still very vocal critics on each side.
The hard line taken by Khamenei and other Iranian policymakers matches the mood by some congressional lawmakers, including a group of 59 bipartisan senators who are pushing legislation to increase sanctions on Iran if the country goes back on the temporary deal or fails to meet certain qualifications.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in November that Iran should be forced to give up all of its nuclear programs – and that sanctions should continue until they do.
“And that’s the bottom line: We just feel more pressure needs to be brought on Iran, rather than to make this deal and take the pressure off,” he said after the interim deal was brokered.
Khamenei views the rhetoric and legislation – which President Obama has vowed to veto, if passed – as the U.S. being dishonest about its intentions.
“The Iranian nation should pay attention to the recent negotiations and the rude remarks of the Americans so that everyone gets to know the enemy well,” he said.
“The Americans speak in their private meetings with our officials in one way, and they speak differently outside these meetings; this is hypocrisy and the bad and evil will of the enemy and the nation should observe all these cases precisely.”