Top Iranian Cleric: US Still Iran’s ‘Number One Enemy’

September 1, 2015  

The United States remains Iran’s “number one enemy” despite a recent nuclear deal with world powers, the chief of Tehran’s top clerical body said Tuesday, Iranian media reported.

The Assembly of Experts is among Iran’s most influential institutions, comprising 86 elected clerics who appoint and can dismiss the country’s supreme leader, led by ultraconservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi.

The nuclear agreement should not “change our foreign policy” of opposition to the United States, “our number one enemy, whose crimes are uncountable,” Yazdi said in a speech opening the annual two-day assembly meeting.

“The US and Israel are the source of the situation in the region and (their) goal is to protect the Zionist regime in the Middle East,” he was quoted as saying, blaming the two countries for the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who as a cleric is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, took office in 2013 and has since sought to undo sanctions imposed by western countries over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The nuclear agreement reached on July 14 with six world powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany – has helped revive Iran’s political stating with the European countries, and opened the doors to billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

Several high-level European delegations have visited Tehran since the deal.

But despite the nuclear talks and the intricate role US Secretary of State John Kerry played in getting the deal across the line, there is currently little prospect of normalization between Iran and the United States.

The two severed ties in 1980 after the hostage taking of US diplomats by Islamist students.

Iran currently stands as the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

The statement Tuesday follows an affirmation by a senior Iranian official that the Islamic Republic still remains committed to the destruction of Israel, a key US ally. 

“Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan,”  Iranian Parliament Speaker’s Adviser for International Affairs Hossein Sheikholeslam said last week.

AFP contributed to this report.

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