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Iranian women chant slogans during an anti-US demonstration outside the former US embassy headquarters in the capital Tehran on May 9, 2018. - Iranians reacted with a mix of sadness, resignation and defiance on May 9 to US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal, with sharp divisions among officials on how best to respond.
For many, Trump's decision on Tuesday to pull out of the landmark nuclear deal marked the final death knell for the hope created when it was signed in 2015 that Iran might finally escape decades of isolation and US hostility. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

Khamenei: International community shouldn't question Iran's expanding presence in Middle East

Iran's supreme leader calls on European leaders to stand up to US if Congress chooses to impose sanctions

Tehran CNN —  

In his first comments after US President Donald Trump said he intended to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, called Trump “foul-mouthed” and someone who “pretends to be an idiot.”

Speaking before a group of what was described by his office as “hundreds of young elites and outstanding scientific talents,” Khamenei said that the European opposition to Trump’s decision was “good, but not enough.”

“The Europeans must stand up against the US measures … including the sanctions they anticipate to emerge from Congress,” he said.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), one of the targets in the US President’s major speech on Iran last week, also issued a statement calling Trump a “dimwit and rogue president.”

In his speech, Trump announced new “tough sanctions” on the elite branch of Iran’s armed forces, calling it the supreme leader’s “corrupt personal terror force and militia.”

“(The IRGC) has hijacked large portions of Iran’s economy and seized massive religious endowments to fund war and terror abroad,” Trump said.

Last week President Trump said Iran was violating the nuclear accord and he has threatened to withdraw the US from the deal, which also involves Russia, China and the EU. So far, the other participants have said the agreement stands.

Of Iran’s commitment to upholding the nuclear deal itself, Khamenei said that “so long as the other side has not torn up the JCPOA, we will not tear it up either,” he said, referring to the accord, whose formal name is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“However, if they tear up the JCPOA, we will shred it.”

02:22 - Source: CNN
Trump's remarks on Iran nuclear deal draw ire

Khamenei told his audience that he didn’t want to spend his time commenting on Trump, Iran’s Press TV reported, saying “it would be a waste of time to respond to such blatherings and nonsensical remarks by the foul-mouthed US President.

’Pretends to be an idiot’

“The US President pretends to be an idiot, but this should not cause us to let our guard down,” Khamenei said.

“They want to take back young, faithful and developed Iran to 50 years ago, and of course this is not possible, but due to backwardness, they are incapable of understanding this reality, and for this reason they have made a miscalculation and suffered, and will suffer successive defeats at the hands of the Iranian nation,” he said.

01:21 - Source: CNN
Trump: US will quit Iran deal without Congress

Sticking point over ballistic missiles

On Wednesday at the United Nations in New York, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned the UN Security Council that it was being “played” by Iran, claiming that the international organization was allowing the theocratic regime to “get away” with a long list of violations and resolutions.

“Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits on its behavior,” she said, adding that “this must stop.”

In a Security Council session that was meant to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Haley criticized the absence of a ban on ballistic weapon development in the nuclear accord, and said when a “rogue regime starts down the path of ballistic missiles, it tells us we will soon have another North Korea on our hands.”

US President Donald Trump and US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speak during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York last month.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speak during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York last month.

The administration wants to include new sanctions in US law that would snap into place should Iran continue to launch ballistic missiles or refuse to extend restrictions on its uranium enrichment when the deal expires in eight years.

European powers have said they are open to negotiating separate deals with Iran but do not favor anything that would endanger the original agreement. Iran has warned against any action that could be seen as renegotiating the 2015 deal retroactively.

CNN’s Sebastian Shukla in London and Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta contributed to this report