Khamenei: If Israel Attacks us, ‘Tel Aviv and Haifa Will Be Razed To The Ground’

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This was the top story and headline on many websites inside Iran. Even Iran’s English-language Press TV highlighted this part of the speech to lead one of their segments.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, made these statements while giving a speech in the Eastern Iranian city of Mashhad yesterday. This was his first speech of the New Year. Although the Supreme Leader made these controversial statements, some believe there were positive points to his speech as well, particularly about negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

After beginning his speech by discussing the “economic progress” Iran experienced the previous year, Khamenei change the subject to America. He said that “America is at the center of conspiracies against Iran, and after 34 years, whenever the [the word] enemy is mentioned, America quickly comes to people’s minds.” He added that “the leaders of America should carefully reflect on in this issue and ask themselves why” this is so.

The Supreme Leader said that “there are also other enemies, such as the wicked English government.” He also said that France “especially in recent years, since [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, has made clear its enmity with Iran.”

In regard to Israel, Khamenei said that they “are not at the level to be counted as Iran’s enemy.” He continued that “sometimes, the leaders of the Zionist regime also threaten us; they make threats of a military strike. But in my opinion, they know themselves, and if they don’t, they should know that if they make a mistake, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”

Khamenei said that despite the efforts of the Americans, “the world community is in no way an enemy of Iran.”

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In regard to the Western sanctions on Iran, Khamenei said that “the Americans, despite their apparent statements of friendship with Iran, from the beginning of the previous year they started with severe sanctions on oil and banks, and they insist that with these hostile acts, not to be considered an enemy.” He said that “if the sanctions had an effect, the fundamental reason is that the country’s economy is attached to oil.” He stressed the need to design “a plan to have an economy not attached to oil as a priority for future administrations.” Khamenei added that an economy not dependent on oil “is possible on the condition that there is correct planning and execution.”

On the nuclear issue, Khamenei said that “it’s been some time that the Americans from various channels have sent messages that they want to hold separate negotiations with Iran about the nuclear program, but based on previous experiences I am not optimistic.” He added that “from the American’s viewpoint, the meaning of talks is to encourage the opposing side to accept their terms.” However, he said that he “is not opposed to negotiations.”

Khamenei said that “many times we said we are not after a nuclear weapon, but the Americans say, ‘We don’t believe you.’ Under these conditions, why should we believe the Americans?” about their intentions on negotiations. He added that “our take is that the recommendation of negotiations is a tactic by the Americans to deceive world public opinion and the Iranian people, and if that is not the case, the Americans need to prove this with their actions.”

One of the tactics Khamenei referred to was the issue of negotiations between America and a representative of the Supreme Leader. Khamenei said that “they said that some [representatives] of the Supreme Leader have negotiated with America, while such words are sheer lies, until now no one from the Supreme Leader has negotiated with America.” Khamenei however did admit that “various administrations, on some specific issues, have negotiated with the Americans, and on those negotiations the administration was bound to observe the Supreme Leader’s red lines.”

Khamenei said that “if the Americans are really inclined to solve the nuclear issue with Iran, they must acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.” He added, “if the Americans truly want to end this case, the path to a solution that we recommend is that in words and deeds, to stop the enmities with the nation of Iran.”