Last year, Trump quit the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions in order to diminish Tehran’s oil exports, curb its missile program, and clip its regional influence.
“The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to a transcript on his website of one of his speeches in Tehran.
“The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history. Yes, they’re unprecedented,” Khamenei said, before launching into an attack on U.S. officials and declaring that the “defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented.”
Iran’s economy has faced instability in recent months with the rial fluctuating in value, making it difficult for ordinary people to make ends meet.
Sporadic protests linked to the tough economic situation have been led by truck drivers, farmers, workers, merchants, and teachers, occasionally resulting in violent confrontations with security forces.
On the same day that Khamenei delivered his speech, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Jordan that the United States is “redoubling not only our diplomatic but our commercial efforts to put real pressure on Iran.”
“There is enormous agreement on the risk that Iran poses to Jordan and other countries in the region,” Pompeo added.
He also noted that the U.S. military withdrawal from Syria won’t jeopardize Washington’s campaign to counter Iran’s malign activity in the region.
The day before Khamenei’s remarks, the European Union imposed its first round of sanctions on Iran since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. The Netherlands said there was a strong indication that Iran was responsible for the assassinations of two Dutch nationals in 2015 and 2017. Denmark and France foiled two Iranian terrorist attacks last year.
“The EU and the Netherlands take strong action against Iranian unlawful interference in Europe. Targeted sanctions and a clear message underline that this behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok wrote on Twitter.
The European Union is one of the signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The other remaining participants are China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
Pompeo lauded the European Union for imposing the sanctions, as the United States considers Iran an outlaw regime. The State Department accuses its rulers of being the world’s largest sponsors of terrorism, facilitating illegal financial activities, threatening maritime security, committing cybercrime, abusing human rights, and exploiting the environment.
“Iran and Hizballah have terrorized Europe since 1979. By taking action today, European nations sent Iran a clear message that terrorism will not be tolerated,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter on Jan.8. “The U.S. strongly supports the new sanctions and stands with our European allies as we counter this common threat.”
On Jan. 3, Pompeo warned Iran about its plans to launch three space vehicles, which feature technology that’s nearly identical to intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Reuters contributed to this report.