USA sanctions putting pressure on Iran and Iranians

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with people of Qom in Teheran

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with people of Qom in Teheran

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments were unusually harsh, reflecting the broader tension between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. The Islamic Republic's top leader said that the punitive financial measures have taken a toll on his country.

"A while ago, a US politician had said, among a gathering of terrorists and thugs, that he hopes to celebrate this Christmas in Tehran", Khamenei said, according to his Twitter feed. "The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history", Khamenei said, according to a Reuters translation.

"Some American statesmen pretend to be irrational", the Leader said, adding, "Of course, I do not think this is the case but they are truly first-class idiots".

Iranians burn an image of President Donald Trump during a demonstration outside the former U.S. Embassy headquarters in Tehran, Iran, on May 9, 2018.

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Ayatollah Khamenei further described Iran's regional status as "the peak of a strategic position in the region", adding that the cause of the U.S. anger after the victory of the Islamic Revolution was that they had lost Iran as the most important country in the region with a rich land full of natural resources.

Bolton - a long-time regime change advocate - often speaks at gatherings of the exiled People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) opposition group, considered a terrorist cult by Tehran's leaders.

Iran's supreme leader, viewed by Shiite hardliners as second only to God, typically doesn't make such forceful remarks.

Punishing sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program had been curbed as part of a 2015 nuclear deal, but were largely re-imposed by the United States past year, under Trump, who has taken a hard line toward Iran. On Tuesday, the USA top diplomat threatened that America would double down on commercial and diplomatic efforts in the coming weeks to "put real pressure on Iran". Iranians will commemorate the revolution's 40th anniversary in February.

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