NEW YORK – The people of Iran “lose sleep” over the prospect of Western culture permeating their society, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in a message on Twitter.
Khamenei, who has cautiously endorsed the nuclear agreement reached last month with world powers, said that “Zionists and Americans’ enmity toward the Islamic Revolution” of 1979 “has not declined and our officials must not forget this fact.”
“Tactics of hostility and detriment might have changed and been revised, but all authorities must beware of playing role in enemy’s plots,” he said. “Under any circumstances,” Iran’s leadership must “take clear Revolutionary stances and frankly express Imam’s principles and Revolutionary positions against enemies.”
Iran’s leadership, including Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have increased their use of Twitter in recent months to publicize their positions on the nuclear issue. Twitter is formally blocked in Iran, but several journalists from the state-run media are allowed accounts, and many citizens have found loopholes to secure access.
On July 13, Rouhani’s Twitter account broke news that a nuclear agreement had been reached one day before it was formally announced. Khamenei’s account has increased its activity since the deal was signed.
“Economic woes won’t cause anxiety, but cultural problems agitate one to lose sleep over them,” Khamenei said on Wednesday. “All countries pay attention to cultural products; so, if some products contradict principles and basics, they must be banned with no shame.”
Obama administration officials say the Iran deal is a transactional understanding: That its premise is sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s verifiable commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons. Cultural, diplomatic and economic exchange between Iran and the United States is not what this agreement is about, according to the White House.
But in a speech delivered to the people of Iran on March 20, before a framework was agreed upon with by world powers, US President Barack Obama said that a final nuclear deal could forge a path to greater ties between Iran and the West.
“If Iran meets its international obligations, we know where the path of dialogue and greater trust and cooperation can lead,” Obama said in the videotaped address. “It will mean more opportunities for Iranians to trade and forge ties with the rest of the world. It means more economic growth and jobs for Iranians, especially young Iranians who dream of making their mark in the world.
“It will mean more opportunities for Iranian students to travel abroad and build new partnerships that help you realize your incredible potential,” he continued. “In short, real diplomatic progress this year can help open up new possibilities and prosperity for the Iranian people for years to come.”
Two former administration officials now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dennis Ross and Gen. (ret.) David Petraeus, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post
on Tuesday suggesting specific policies they believe would strengthen the accord.
Providing Israel with massive ordnance penetrators (MOPs), capable of bombing mountains, would increase Israeli deterrence against Iranian aggression, they said. And both former aides to the president said that an Iranian decision to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) at any time in the future should trigger a military strike.
“Were Obama to be unequivocal about the use of force should Iran violate its commitment not to seek nuclear weapons, the international community would accept the legitimacy of military strikes in response,” wrote Petraeus and Ross, who accused the president of using “devaluing language” regarding the prospect of military force as an option against an expanding Iranian nuclear program.
Obama’s energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, has said in recent weeks that any decision by Iran to pursue HEU in the future should meet with a severe response from the United States. Obama has not specified what conditions would revive the US military option, arguing he seeks to preserve “flexibility” for future presidents.
The nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, picked up support from additional Democrats this week in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
Several lawmakers from California, as well as Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, declared their intention to vote against a resolution disapproving of the agreement slated for mid-September.
One Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, has received hate messages in recent days on his social media pages. He announced support for the agreement, becoming the most prominent Jewish member of Congress from the Empire State to do so.
The Anti-Defamation League and the National Jewish Democratic Council both released statements condemning some of the language surrounding Nadler’s decision, which the ADL characterized as “appalling” ad hominem attacks that had “crossed the line.”
“While we stand together on this important issue, my gratitude truly lies in your show of courage in voting your conscience on this important issue, just as many of your colleagues in the New York delegation, including Senator Chuck Schumer, have shown in voting theirs,” National Jewish Democratic Council chairman Greg Rosenbaum said in a letter to Nadler.
Schumer, senior senator from New York, is one of two Democratic senators publicly opposed to the agreement.
Fifteen Democrats in the upper chamber remain undeclared.
Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, considered a key swing vote, plans to announce his decision on the vote next week.