WASHINGTON (JTA) — An anti-Israel speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei drew condemnations from U.S. officials.
In his Wednesday speech, Khamenei said that Israel “will not endure” and appeared to refer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “unclean rabid dog.”
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday called the remarks “abhorrent.” Also on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Khamenei’s remarks were “inflammatory” and “the last thing we need” while talks are underway in Geneva.
In his speech, Khamenei appeared to respond to Netanyahu’s claim that Iran poses a threat not just to Israel but to the entire international community.
“Sometimes this is heard from the enemies of Iran, such as from the sinister mouth of the unclean rabid dog of the region in the Zionist regime,” Khamenei said, according to Iran Pulse, an English language monitor of the Iranian press.
Khamenei slammed the French for adopting the toughest stand in major powers’ negotiations with Iran on rolling back the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“The support of the miserable Zionist regime to which not even an animal’s name can be assigned will be a great dishonor to the Europeans. Of course, the French must themselves find a remedy for it,” he said. “The Zionist regime is an imposed regime, and whatever comes out of force is not durable and this regime will not endure.”
Netanyahu, meeting in Moscow with Russian Jewish community leaders, said that the remarks underscored the true nature of the Iranian regime.
“This is the real Iran! We are not confused,” Netanyahu said. “They must not have nuclear weapons. And I promise you that they will not have nuclear weapons.”
In his speech, Khamenei also warned Iranian negotiators in Geneva not to cross “red lines,” although he did not spell these out.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has suggested in recent days that Iran may retreat from its demand that the international community recognize an Iranian right to enrich uranium.