'Death to America': Iran's Supreme Leader accuses the US of 'bullying'

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By Sarah Taylor  with AP, REUTERS
'Death to America': Iran's Supreme Leader accuses the US of 'bullying'

The deadline is looming for a deal to be struck on Iran’s nuclear programme and it seems the country’s Supreme Leader is feeling the pressure.

Ali Khamenei has the last word on all matters of state. Long mistrustful of Tehran’s main negotiating partner in the ongoing talks, he used a recent speech in Iran’s second-largest city Mashdad, to lash out at the US.

‘Death to America’

During his discourse in the Imam Reza Shrine, he accused Washington of ‘bullying’ and trying to turn Iranians against Islamic rule.

Shouts of ‘Death to America’ could be heard coming from the audience.

“Of course, yes, death to America,” Khamenei continued, “because America is the original source of this pressure. They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy. What’s their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system.”

Tehran refutes Western allegations that it is looking to develop nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the United Nations has imposed strict economic sanctions on Iran. Khamenei attacked the penalties, saying ‘arrogant powers’ had brought about the fall in oil prices by more than 50 percent in recent months.

However, speaking after the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, US Secretary of State John Kerry remained resolved:
“We are united in our goal, our approach, our resolve and our determination to ensure that Iran’s programme is entirely peaceful,” he said.

‘God willing, we will reach a deal’

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, painted a rosy picture of the discussions.

“God willing, at the end of negotiations, we will reach a deal and an understanding which will benefit all nations,” he said.

Iran and the six-nation group of global powers (the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) will meet again on Wednesday, March 25, with a view to reaching a rough agreement on the disputed nuclear programme by the end of the month.