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Tyranny & Human Rights Abuses backgrounder

Iranian Belligerence Toward America and Israel During the Nuclear Talks

Iran shows its contempt for the west as “Death to America” and other provocations continue. Here’s a timeline of Iranian belligerence since the nuclear talks started in earnest in late 2013.

“American Was a Snake, it is Now a Poisonous Serpent”

On October 11th, 2013, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the Friday prayer leader in Tehran who was appointed by Khamenei, told worshippers “America is the great Satan… American was a snake, it is now a poisonous serpent… According to this logic we say death to America.” He went on to say that “this slogan is the secret of Iran’s resistance and for as long as there is American evil, this slogan will endure across the nation of Iran.”

Israel “doomed to extinction”

On November 20, 2013, Khamenei spoke to tens of thousands of Basij militiamen, saying that Iran should not be hostile toward the US, but that the US must abide by its strict limits in the nuclear negotiations. The crowd responded with shouts of “death to America.” Khamenei added that Israel is “doomed to extinction.”


IRGC Navy Fires on Simulated US Carrier

On February 25, 2014, the naval branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards conducted a simulation exercise where it fired upon a fake US aircraft carrier near the Strait of Hormuz, an important waterway for oil transport. The fake aircraft carrier was built on top of a barge, and was attacked using rockets, torpedoes, and missiles after being surrounded by Iranian speedboats. A video was released of the exercise, and military officials are heard shouting “praise Allah” every time they hit the fake ship. Iran dislikes US presence in the Persian Gulf, and the Revolutionary Guards’ navy chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi, has stated that his navy is capable of sinking American aircraft carriers if the two countries go to war. The presenter in the video quotes the Quran, saying that “God will guide those who fight in line with his wishes.”

A Steady Stream of Holocaust Denial

On March 25, 2014, Khamenei gave a speech denying the Holocaust. He said that no true evidence exists that it happened, but that countries purporting to have free speech still throw people in jail for denying it. Following Khamenei’s speech, the crowd chanted, “Allah Akbar! Khamenei is the leader. Death to those who oppose the Rule of the Jurisprudent. Death to America. Death to England. Death to the hypocrites. Death to Israel! Death to America. Death to America.”

IRGC: Iran Has The Right To Attack US Ships

On May 6, 2014, Adm. Ali Fadavi, the chief of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said in an interview that if Iran and the US are at war, the US may have more military strength but that it knows “these weapons are ineffective against a new [Iranian] strategy relying on faith, on a desire for martyrdom, and on [Iran’s] unique speedboats.” He said that Iran has the right to attack US ships in the Strait of Hormuz or the Persian Gulf if US ships are uncooperative. “We are doing it for one clear purpose,” he declared, “the result of which will be the defeat and humiliation of the Americans.”

Against America, “Battle and Jihad are Endless”

On May 25, 2014, Khamenei said that Iranians who promote negotiations with the P5+1 world powers and blame Iran for being quick to fight are committing treason. He says that instead, Iran must remain combative because that is its Islamic duty. He also said that Iran’s scientific advancement cannot be stopped, and that “battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when society can get rid of the oppressor’s front with America at the head of it.”

How to Eliminate Israel, in a Nine-Step Infographic

On November 9, 2014, Khamenei tweeted a nine-step infographic detailing a plan to eliminate the state of Israel. He proposed a referendum including “the original Palestinians,” who will “decide whether the non-Palestinian emigrants who have immigrated into the country over the past years can continue living in Palestine or should return to their home countries.” He says that the people of the West Bank should be armed, much like the people of Gaza. However, he does concede that Muslim countries should neither go to war with Israel nor throw the Jews out at sea.

Regime Celebrates “Death to America” Day Amid Negotiations

On November 4, 2014, Iranians gathered at rallies across the country, shouting “death to America!” November 4 was the 35th anniversary of the 1979 hostage crisis at the American Embassy in Tehran. The day has been named the “National Day of Campaign Against Global Arrogance.”


Erasing Israel “a Fixed Goal and Cannot Be Negotiated”

On March 31, 2015, the Basij militia commander Reza Naqdi said that “erasing Israel off the map” is a fixed goal and cannot be negotiated. He also said in 2014 that Iran was trying to arm the West Bank in preparation for an eventual war with Israel. He additionally stated that Iran provided significant amounts of training to Hamas while also supplying many of the weapons it used.

Crowds Chant “Death to America” at Every Occasion

On May 6, 2015, Khamenei spoke to teachers about the US-Iran nuclear talks and how the world was trying to destroy Iran. He said that Iran has been continuously threatened militarily throughout the talks, and that it would not conduct negotiations “under the shadow of threats.” He continued, saying that “the people of Iran will never let go of those who transgress against them,” implying a threat against anyone who he deems to have insulted Iran. Throughout the speech, the crowd interrupted him with chants of “God is great! Khamenei is the leader! Death to the enemies of the leadership! Death to America! Death to England! Death to the hypocrites! Death to Israel!”

“Neither Compromise Nor Surrender” in the “Fight Against America”


On June 4, 2015, Khamenei said in a televised speech that the US and Israel support the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. The speech was given at the tomb of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and it was given at his tomb. Khamenei described some of the principles he believed to be central to Khomeini’s vision, including a rejection of American Islam, which neither Ayatollah sees as legitimate. He compared the “oppressive behavior” of IS in Iraq and Syria to the “oppressive behavior” of the “federal police” in the US. During the speech, the audience chanted “Neither compromise no[r] surrender, fight against America!” and “God is great! God is great! God is great! Khamenei is the Leader! Death to anti-supreme jurisconsult! Death to America! Death to England! Death to hypocrites and nonbelievers! Death to Israel!”

Iran threatens to Destroy Israeli Cities with 80 Thousand Missiles

On May 22, 2015, Iran threatened to fire 80,000 missiles at Israel after Israel’s defense minister Moshe Ya’alon was misquoted by Iran’s state news agency Fars. Ya’alon was quoted as saying that Israel intends to hurt Lebanese children, but he was actually talking about the dangers of Hezbollah and its use of civilian homes to store weapons. Iranian General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the military advisor of Khamenei, said that Iran, Hezbollah, and their friends are capable of destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Iranian Parliament Rejects Inspections While Shouting "Death to America"

On June 21, 2015, Iranian lawmakers voted to ban inspectors from accessing military documents, sites, and scientists, while shouting “Death to America!” as a part of the nuclear deal.