Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday called US officials “first-class idiots,” mocking American leaders as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured the Mideast to promote the White House’s tough stance on Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments were unusually harsh, reflecting the broader tension between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Khamenei, speaking to a group from Iran’s religious capital of Qom, made the remark while recounting a story about a U.S. official once predicting he’d celebrate Christmas in Iran.
“Some US officials pretend that they are mad,” Khamenei said. “Of course I don’t agree with that, but they are first-class idiots.” The supreme leader did not name the official. However, US National Security Adviser John Bolton told a meeting of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq last March that “before 2019, we here … will celebrate in Iran.” Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has made similar comments before the MEK over the years.
Iran’s supreme leader, viewed by Shiite hard-liners as second only to God, typically doesn’t make such forceful remarks. However, Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the nuclear deal has seen the 79-year-old cleric grow increasingly critical.