Donald Trump a 'clown' who will betray Iranians: Khamenei

Updated: Jan 18, 2020, 07:54 IST | Agencies | Tehran

Iran's supreme leader called the shooting down of the Ukraine plane a 'bitter accident' that saddened Iran as much as it made its enemies happy.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivering a sermon to the crowd on Friday. Pic/AFP
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivering a sermon to the crowd on Friday. Pic/AFP

Tehran: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said President Donald Trump is a "clown" who only pretends to support the Iranian people, as he addressed Friday prayers In Tehran for the first time since 2012. Khamenei says Trump will 'push a poisonous dagger' into the nation's back.

He said the outpouring of grief at the funeral for Iran's top general, Qasem Soleimani who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this month, shows that Iranians support the Islamic Republic.

Khamenei said by killing Soleimani, America had 'cowardly' killed the most effective commander in the fight against the Islamic. In response to Soleimani's killing, Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting US troops in Iraq, without causing serious injuries.

As Iran's Revolutionary Guard braced for an American counterattack that never came, it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian jetliner shortly after it took off from Tehran's international airport, killing all 176 passengers on board, mostly Iranians.

Khamenei called the shooting down of the plane a 'bitter accident' that saddened Iran as much as it made its enemies happy. He said Iran's enemies had seized on the crash to question the Islamic Republic, the Revolutionary Guard and the armed forces.

He said Western countries are too weak to 'bring Iranians to their knees' and that Iran was willing to negotiate, but not with the US.

Khamenei has held the country's top office since 1989 and has the final say on all major decisions. The 80-year-old leader openly wept at the funeral of Soleimani and vowed 'harsh retaliation against the US.

Authorities concealed their role in the tragedy for three days, initially blaming the crash on a technical problem. Their admission of responsibility triggered days of street protests, which security forces dispersed with live ammunition and tear gas.

Tensions between Iran and the US have steadily escalated since Trump withdrew the US from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which imposed restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

The White House too has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, including its vital oil and gas industry, pushing the country into an economic crisis that has ignited several waves of leaderless protests.

Trump has openly encouraged the protesters, 'even tweeting in Farsi' hoping that the protests and the sanctions will bring about a fundamental change in a longtime adversary.
After Soleimani was killed in th air strike, Iran announced it would no longer be bound by the limitations in nuclear agreement.

Feb 2012
Last time Khamenei delivered a Friday sermon

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