Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since Trump took office as president vowing to reverse a 2015 deal that saw Tehran curb its nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Iran has hit back at the US after President Donald Trump’s administration slapped sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and entities last week.
The sanctions came days after the Trump administration put Tehran “on notice” over a recent ballistic missile test-launch. The White House said the missile launch was not a direct breach of the nuclear deal but “violates the spirit of that.”
In his first public comments on the issue since Trump’s inauguration, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iranians to respond to Trump’s “threats” on Friday’s anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
“No enemy can paralyse the Iranian nation,” Khamenei said in a meeting with military commanders in Tehran. “The Iranian people will respond to his words on Feb 10, (the anniversary of the revolution) and will show their stance against such threats.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also criticised Trump on Tuesday, saying the nuclear deal was a “win-win” that saw Tehran curb its nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of sanctions.
“The new US president reads the text of the nuclear deal but cannot accept it. He says this is the worst deal in history,” Rouhani said.
“This is a win-win agreement. Everyone benefits from it … The nuclear negotiations can be used as an example for other talks to bring stability and security to the region,” he added.
Rouhani enjoyed equitable relations with former US President Barack Obama, who initiated the normalisation of ties between the two countries with a phone call congratulating Rouhani on his election in late 2013.
During his election campaign, Trump referred to the 2015 nuclear agreement as a “bad deal.” On Friday, his administration said it was ratcheting up pressure on Iran in what it said were just “initial steps.”
A UN Security Council resolution underpinning the nuclear pact urges Iran to refrain from testing missiles designed to be able to carry nuclear warheads, but imposes no obligation.
However, Trump’s stance on the missile testing remains unchanged.
Although Tehran has warned that “roaring missiles” would fall on its enemies if its security is threatened, it has also said its military would never initiate a war.