Ayatollah Khamenei outlines strategy that could outlast Trump presidency

October 13, 2020 - 13:13

TEHRAN – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei outlined the main aspects of Iran’s strategy to counter U.S. pressure on Iran, saying the country will move forward with what U.S. officials constantly “rant” about.

In a commencement speech given to military graduates via videoconference on Monday morning, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iranian armed forces, addressed several issues concerning domestic and foreign policies, including the ways that are regarded as effective in the current showdown between Tehran and Washington.

The graduation ceremony was held in Imam Ali (PBUH) Officer’s Academy, where only a number of the exemplary units from Iran’s conventional army, the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, and Police were present due to the special conditions caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The Leader put a special emphasis on the importance of ensuring security, saying security is a vital necessity without which all other important values will be disrupted.

“Studying in the academies of our Armed Forces is one of the most noble and valuable acts. Why? Because the Armed Forces ensure the country’s security. Security is a vital element. Without it, all other important values such as education, justice, welfare, and the like are disrupted,” the Leader stated.

He also moved on to the issue of U.S. sanctions on Iran and the three pillars of Iran’s national strength, saying that nations lacking strong defense are in danger of being targeted by other countries such as the U.S.

“If we consider there to be three main pillars for a country’s national strength, they are: ‘economic strength and stability,’ ‘cultural capability and harmony’, and ‘a strong defense’. A strong defense is vital to the strength of every nation. If nations do not have a strong defense, then those who are in pursuit of transgressing against and taking advantage of other nations and wish to interfere in their affairs – countries such as the U.S. and other such countries – will not leave them alone. They will attack everything these nations have. You can see today what transgressions are being committed against countries throughout the world,” Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out.  

He called the U.S. officials “prattling thugs” that “keep ranting and raving about” Iran’s defensive, regional, and missile capabilities. According to the Leader, the reason why they do so is the Islamic Republic’s precise, wise calculations in achieving such capabilities.

The Leader added, “Their prattling is the result of their fear and their backwardness in this area. Without taking heed of the impression that they are trying to create, we should preserve our system of reasonable calculations, and with God’s grace, the Islamic Republic will continue to move forward in all these areas.”

Ayatollah Khamenei’s strong emphasis on the Islamic Republic’s willingness to press ahead with its regional and missile capabilities sent a powerful message that Iran is not going to abandon what it considers as a pillar of national strength. This stands in stark contrast to what the U.S. has been seeking to achieve through sweeping economic sanctions: a negotiated deal on Iran’s missile and nuclear programs and its regional influence.

These three objectives were the main reason why U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8, 2018. Over the past two years, Trump has been increasingly intensifying sanctions on Iran in a bid to force it into entering a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and its regional influence. Iran strongly rejected Trump’s repetitive offers for new talks, underlining that it will not hold talks with a president who reneged on all U.S. commitments under the JCPOA.

However, Trump’s presidency is nearing its end while he is trailing his Democratic rival Joe Biden, who famously pledged to rejoin the JCPOA if he wins the November 3rd presidential election, a move that is understood by some analysts in the West as a reason why Iran keeps exercising restraint in the face of Trump’s provocative measures such as imposing sanctions on almost each and every sector in the Iranian economy.

Biden himself has knowingly or unknowingly given rise to this perception by publicly criticizing Trump’s Iran policy and calling for “smarter way to be tough on Iran.”

In an opinion piece published by CNN on September 13, Biden said he will return to the JCPOA if he wins the November election but his return would be conditional.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” Biden promised.

There is a perception in Iran that “other issues of concerns” will almost certainly include U.S. requests for negotiating on Iran’s missile and nuclear programs alongside talks over how to revisit the JCPOA.

Such requests will run counter to what Iran considers as “pillars of national strength”. Therefore, a Biden win in the November election will do little to significantly settle the differences between Tehran and Washington. This may be the reason why Ayatollah Khamenei sought to shed light on the necessity of strengthening economic resilience.

The Leader said the U.S. sanctions on Iran are a crime in the true sense of the word. However, he underlined that the remedy to Iran’s economic challenges is boosting the production capacity of the country.

Taking a jab at U.S. officials, the Leader said, “Only scoundrels like you take pride in committing such crimes.”

Referring to economic strength and stability as the third pillar of national strength, the Supreme Leader said, “It has frequently been said that the remedy to our economic problems is concentrating on production, preventing the continuous devaluation of the national currency and blocking the way for smuggling, unnecessary imports, and financial corruption.”

The Leader added, “Today the U.S. is in a dire situation due to billions of dollars of its budget deficit and also due to the existence of tens of millions of hungry people below the poverty line. However, with God’s grace, the Iranian nation will overcome the problems it is facing with the power of its faith, its national determination, and despite the foolish desires of the vicious, treacherous, criminal politicians in the U.S. And they will use the sanctions as a means for strengthening the economy of the country.”

He pointed out, “Although many of our problems are related to international issues, their remedy exists inside the country. The remedy consists of relying on correct calculations, adopting the right outlook concerning the affairs of the country and the region, and benefiting from wisdom, diligence, and firm determination. The remedy should not be sought outside the country because we will not gain anything from foreigners. Moreover, the commotion created by the thugs dominating the U.S. nation should not occupy anyone’s thoughts.”

The Leader’s emphasis on the missile program and regional influence of Iran as pillars of national strength as well as his efforts to highlight the need to wean Iran’s economy from the influence of foreigners could be indicative of a long-lasting strategy to move forward with policies that the U.S. wants to change. With Iran moving forward with its current policies, the Trump policy of “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran will face a major defeat because the White House has made tremendous efforts to pressure Iran into abandoning these policies.

The Leader expressed willingness to bring about this defeat, saying the Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to turn the U.S. “maximum pressure into a maximum disgrace.”

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