‘Death to America’ Means ‘Death to Trump,’ Iran’s Supreme Leader Says Express News
TEHRAN — When Iran uses the slogan “Death to America,” the country’s supreme leader said on Friday, it is specifically wishing death on President Trump and two of his senior officials.
“ ‘Death to America’ means death to Trump and John Bolton and Pompeo,” the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, referring to John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. “It means death to American leaders, who happen to be these people at this time,” he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei has reflected on the phrase repeatedly as Iran prepares to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution, and engages in an increasingly bitter standoff with the Trump administration. The United States has withdrawn from a nuclear accord with Iran, reimposed economic sanctions on the country, and stepped up measures designed to pressure and perhaps to change its leadership.
“Death to America” would remain part of Iran’s official discourse, Ayatollah Khamenei’s website, Khamenei.ir, quoted him as saying on Monday, until the United States changed its “evil and mean” ways.
Mr. Pompeo has led efforts to increase pressure on Iran, and recently met with an opposition figure, Masih Alinejad. In 2017, before his appointment to the Trump administration, Mr. Bolton spoke to an armed Iranian opposition group and predicted that the Islamic republic would collapse.
President Hassan Rouhani said last week that the republic was facing its worst economic situation in its 40 years.
In the weeks preceding the anniversary, Iranian clerics, politicians and commanders have been renewing their rhetorical attacks against the United States.
The country’s leaders have also been showing off new missiles. On Thursday, state television displayed what it said was a new missile called Dezful with a range of 1,000 kilometers, or about 620 miles. It also showed an underground missile base and a commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who boasted about the capacities of Iran’s missile defense program.
Ayatollah Khamenei has also lashed out against the European Union, which remains supportive of the nuclear deal and last week registered a payments vehicle called the Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges, meant to bypass United States sanctions against Iran. The Iranian authorities have accused Europe of setting unacceptable conditions for using the mechanism.
“These days there is talk about Europeans and their offers. My advice is not to trust them, just like with the Americans,” Ayatollah Khamenei said Friday at a meeting with senior Army Air Force officers. “I’m not saying cut ties with Europe; it is about trust,” he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei has also announced that 50,000 prisoners will be pardoned in coming days as part of the anniversary. Those facing charges of rape, armed robbery, acid attack and many categories of smuggling will not be eligible for the pardons; nor will those charged with embezzlement, money laundering, “security-related charges with a prison term of more than a year” or “distortion of the country’s economy.”