In a speech Saturday, just three days before the stated deadline for the nuclear talks, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi laid out a battery of charges against the Americans, accusing them of being killers and terrorists.
The allegations were not new, but they had largely fallen into disuse in recent years. Khamenehi resurrected them and assembled them in one presentation on the evils of the United States.
The purpose of such a harsh attack on the Americans just days before a nuclear agreement is expected to be wrapped up was anything but clear.
Some thought he was trying to sabotage the talks. But he can do that much more efficiently by ordering his negotiators to hold out for terms he knows the Americans will never accept.
More likely his anti-American rant was intended as a shield to protect him from hardline critics when his negotiators make concessions they will have to make to win a deal.
Khamenehi is painting himself as the hardest of hardliners with rhetoric, even if he isn’t as hard when it comes to policy.
Khamenehi has also probably noticed that no one in the negotiations really cares what he says. Just days before Kha-menehi sliced and diced the Americans on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly dismissed an earlier Kha-menehi diatribe as just intended for domestic consumption—something American and European officials have been doing ever since the nuclear talks began a year and a half ago.
Saturday, however, was a rhetorical highpoint—or low point, depending on one’s perspective—as Khamenehi described the United States as a veritable offspring of Nazi Germany.
The occasion was an address to the relatives of revolutionary martyrs.
He linked the United States to the June 28, 1981, bombing at the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, killing 72 leading figures of the revolutionary regime, including Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, the head of the Supreme Judicial Council. That has always been blamed on the Mojahedin-e Khalq before. This time, however, Khamenehi brought the United States into the equation, saying the Americans were allowing the bombers to enjoy sanctuary in the United States and implying the Americans were behind the bombing.
“The very people who committed the June 28 crime are now freely active in Europe and the US and keep meeting officials there and are even given platforms to speak out on human rights,” Khamenehi said.
Khamenehi also cited the July 1988 shootdown of an Iran Air passenger plane, killing all 290 people aboard. Iran has always said the US Navy shot that plane down intentionally and dismissed the Navy report that showed a badly confused crew that told the captain the Airbus was descending on an attack path when the electronic recording of the radar shows clearly that the plane was ascending.
“Those who want to cover up the evil enmity of the US and some of its followers through media and propaganda ploys are in fact betraying the people and the state,” Khamenehi said.