(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed defiance of the U.S. with a side order of American pop culture, invoking the cat-and-mouse adventures of Tom and Jerry.
“The U.S. has tried various political, economic, military and propaganda undertakings to hit the Islamic Republic” throughout its four decades, the nation’s top religious leader told a gathering of officials on Wednesday. But “all these plots failed. Like the famous cat in Tom and Jerry they will lose again.”
In the cartoon series created 78 years ago, the plucky mouse Jerry consistently outsmarted the larger cat Tom, although both did their best to torment each other.
Khamenei’s comments, posted on his official website, were his first since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech this week outlining a list of demands for Iran, including that the Persian Gulf nation permanently end its nuclear program and withdraws support for groups like the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that the U.S. considers terrorists.
Pompeo’s speech detailed Washington’s approach after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 international agreement in which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
Other participants in the nuclear accord, including France, the U.K. and Germany, are trying to keep it intact. Khamenei said Wednesday that Iran “doesn’t have a dispute with European nations” but “doesn’t trust them” and they should provide guarantees that Iran will reap the economic benefits of abiding by the agreement.
Khamenei said Iran reserves the right to expand its nuclear program beyond the limits of the accord unless European banks facilitate trade and Europeans provide assurances that they will buy Iranian oil if the U.S. attempts to disrupt crude sales. He also said they must refrain from seeking negotiations over Iran’s ballistic missile program or its regional policies.
Likes Victor Hugo
Iran “can not engage” with the U.S. because “it doesn’t stand by its commitments,” Khamenei said. “Flexibility in the face of this enemy will turn it bolder,” while “resistance in the face of the U.S. will force it to step back.”
Khamenei, who’s a revered figure to his followers, describes himself as a literature fan. He has praised “Les Miserables” by the French author Victor Hugo as “the best novel ever written.”
Earlier this month he was photographed at the annual International Book Fair in Tehran visiting stands and perusing a Farsi translation of “Fire and Fury,” the American bestseller by Michael Wolff that offers a scathing portrayal of Trump’s first year in office.
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