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Kerry ‘Troubled’ by Khamenei’s Calling US an Enemy of Iran

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was uncertain as to how to deal with the Iranian leader’s recent belligerent speeches in which the Supreme Leader reaffirmed Iran’s position that the “arrogant” United States remains an enemy of Iran.

In his first public speech since the announcement of an agreement between Iran and the world powers about Iran’s nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei further stated Iran’s continued support for its friends in the Middle East, including the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah, the governments of Syria and Iraq, the “oppressed people” in Yemen and Bahrain, and Palestinian oppositions groups (such as Hamas).

When asked in an interview with the Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya how he read these statements, Kerry responded, “I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy. But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling, and we’ll have to wait and see.”

Khamenei’s remarks, made at a gathering in Tehran to mark the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, were punctuated by chants of “Death to America” emanating from the crowd.

In a Friday sermon, an influential senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, spoke behind a podium that had a sign on it that read, “We Will Trample Upon America,” in Persian and “We Defeat the United States” in English.

In another interview, Kerry countered charges that Iran would use money from the expected $150 billion in sanctions relief to fund terror saying, “They’re not allowed to do that outside even with this agreement.”

Kerry explained further, “There's a U.N. resolution that specifically applies to them not being allowed to transfer to Hezbollah. They are specifically not allowed under another U.N. resolution to transfer to the Shia militia in Iraq.”

Kerry failed to address the fact that Iran has continually violated these resolutions. It is estimated that Iran funnels at least $100 million annually to Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group. Some estimates say the figure is as high as $200 million per year. The U.S. State Department considers Iran the world's "most active state sponsor of terrorism." 

Kerry further said, “We are not kidding when we talk about the importance of pushing back against extremism, against support for terrorism and proxies who are destabilizing other countries. It’s unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, Khamenei's top foreign affairs adviser said that there will be no inspections of Iranian military sites, despite what is written in the agreement between Iran and the six world powers.

Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency as saying, “Iran will not allow them [inspectors] to visit our military centers and interfere in decisions about the type of Iran's defensive weapons."

"Missiles like Shahab, Sejjil and the like, have never been used for carrying nuclear warheads, and therefore, are not subject to the paragraphs of the Vienna draft agreement," said Velayati. Experts have stated these long-range missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Speaking to the Iranian parliament earlier in the week, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, stated that "using the ballistic missiles doesn’t violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)."

"This paragraph (of the annex of the JCPOA) speaks about missiles with nuclear warhead capability and since we don’t design any of our missiles for carrying nuclear weapons, therefore, this paragraph is not related to us at all," he explained.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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