Middle East

‘Smarter’ Reagan failed against Iran, Khamenei tells Trump

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump would fail in his hardened stance towards Iran, saying Tehran is stronger than during the time of Ronald Reagan.

"Reagan was more powerful and smarter than Trump, and he was a better actor in making threats, and he also moved against us and they shot down our plane," Khamenei said in a speech carried on state television.

In 1988, a US warship shot down an Iranian passenger plane over the Gulf, killing all 290 aboard, in an incident which Washington said was a mistake. Tehran said it was a deliberate attack on Iran, then at war with neighbouring Iraq.

"But Reagan is gone and, according to our beliefs, he now faces God's retribution … while Iran has made great advances in all areas since Reagan's time," Khamenei added.

"This trend will continue under the current American president and any hopes on their part that the Islamic Republic would back off or weaken is futile."

Trump refused in October to certify that Tehran is complying with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and warned he might ultimately terminate the agreement.

He announced the shift in US policy in a speech in which he detailed a more aggressive approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its support for militant groups in the Middle East.

Under the nuclear deal, signed with major world powers, sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for Tehran rolling back technologies with nuclear bomb-making potential.

Trump made the pact with Iran, which he had called disastrous, a major theme in his campaign while running for president.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump cannot scrap the agreement on his own.

Iran has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.

Besides casting doubt over the future of the nuclear deal, the Trump administration is accusing Iran of arming Yemen's Houthi rebels and wants world powers to denounce Tehran for allegedly violating UN resolutions relating to the conflict there.

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