Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Supreme Leader of Iran

Under the Islamic Republic of Iran’s velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) system of government, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the most powerful political official in Iran. His powers include “constitutional authority over the judiciary, the regular armed forces and the elite Revolutionary Guards, and the state-controlled media.” Given the power vested in Ayatollah Khamenei's position, understanding his political and ideological views—"In His Own Words"— is crucial to understanding the Iranian regime’s current domestic and foreign policies.

Nuclear negotiations have been "another valuable experience for everyone to know that being in touch with Americans and talking to them is useless and has absolutely no effect on decreasing their enmity."

Nuclear and Missile Programs

  • "We oppose nuclear weapons, and we have issued a religious fatwa (verdicts) prohibiting building nuclear weapons. But rest assured that if we wanted to build nuclear weapons, the U.S. would not be able to do anything about it, and the United States’ prohibition would not be an obstacle."

    June 13, 2019 in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  • "After the nuclear agreement, the first person to immediately breach the JCPOA was Mr. Obama himself; the same person who had asked for direct talks with Iran and had also sent a mediator. This is our experience, and rest assured Mr. Abe that we will not repeat it.”

    June 13, 2019 in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  • “We said before that we will not negotiate with America, because negotiation has no benefit and carries harm… We will not negotiate over the core values of the revolution. We will not negotiate over our military capabilities.”

    May 29, 2019 addressing university professors
  • “[T]he way the JCPOA was handled, I did not really believe in it, and mentioned this to the president and the foreign minister and had warned them several times.”

    May 22, 2019 addressing university students
  • Negotiating with the present American government is doubly poisonous... they are not decent humans, they don't stand by anything.”

    May 14, 2019 addressing state officials
  • “Our enemies will never be able to halt our nuclear progress... It is their bad dream and will not happen.”

    June 4, 2018 in a televised speech
  • “We will never accept their bullying over the nuclear deal ... Americans are using all the wickedness to damage the result of the nuclear talks. Any retreat by Iran will make America more blatant and impudent ... Resistance is the only option.”

    November 2, 2017 in a televised speech
  • “Trump’s stupidity should not distract us from America’s deceitfulness ... If the U.S. tears up the deal, we will shred it ... Everyone should know that once again America will receive a slap in its mouth and will be defeated by Iranians.”

    October 18, 2017 in a speech to students in Tehran
  • “The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions. The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it.”

    November 23, 2016 addressing members of the Revolutionary Guards
  • “The JCPOA, as an experience, once again proved the futility of negotiations with the Americans, their lack of commitment to their promises and the necessity of distrust of US pledges.”

    August 1, 2016
  • “We do not violate the deal, but if the other party violates it, if they tear the agreement up, we will light it on fire.”

    June 15, 2016
  • "Nuclear negotiations have been another valuable experience for everyone to know that being in touch with Americans and talking to them is useless and has absolutely no effect on decreasing their enmity."

    August 13, 2014 address to Iran’s foreign minister, ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions 
  • "Those [Iranians] who want to promote negotiations and surrender to the oppressors and blame the Islamic Republic as a warmonger in reality commit treason."

    May 25, 2014 public address to parliament
  • "They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action. So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation ... The revolutionary guards should definitely carry out their program and not be satisfied with the present level. They should mass produce. This is a main duty of all military officials."

    May 11, 2014 remarks at an aeronautics fair held by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
  • "Our negotiators should not accept any coercive words from the other party. The country's nuclear achievements can't be stopped, and no one has the right to bargain over it."

    April 9, 2014 speech to nuclear scientists and officials to mark Iran's National Day of Nuclear Technology
  • "Some of the officials of the previous government as well as the officials of this government think the problem will be resolved if they negotiate the nuclear issue…I repeat it again that I am not optimistic about the negotiations and they will lead nowhere, but I am not against them… The nuclear issue is an excuse for America (to continue) its animosity."

    February 17, 2014 speech
  • "We had announced that the Islamic Republic would negotiate - whenever it thinks it is expedient - with this Satan on specific issues in order to eradicate its evil deeds and solve the problems... One of the blessings of the recent negotiations was that the enmity of the Americans and the officials of the government of the United States of America towards Iran and the Iranians, and towards Islam and Muslims became clear to everyone."

    January 9, 2014 remarks in Qom on nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

“Today, you are hated throughout the world. If you don't know this, you should. The peoples burn your flag. The Islamic peoples all over the world chant: 'Death to America!'”

Anti-Americanism and Anti-Westernism

  • "Confiscating other nations' masks, emptying shops, fighting over toilet paper and long lines for buying guns during the coronavirus outbreak are the logical and natural outcome of the philosophy that governs western civilization. … Some were surprised when we said that western civilization has a savage spirit that comes together with a perfumed, smart appearance. Now they're confessing to this."”

    April 9, 2020 remarks commemorating the birth of Imam Mahdi
  • “The Coronavirus outbreak should not cause us to neglect the oppression and tyranny of the superpowers in the world against different nations including the Palestinian and Yemeni nations. We should also not neglect the conspiracies and enmity of the Arrogant Powers, because unlike the notion that some people have – saying that if we don’t show enmity, they won’t either – the enmity of the Arrogant Powers is based on the essence of the Islamic Republic and religious democracy,"

    April 9, 2020 remarks commemorating the birth of Imam Mahdi
  • "I do not know how real this accusation is (that the U.S. created the coronavirus) but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication? Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more… (The coronavirus could have been) specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians which they have obtained through different means."

    March 22, 2020 remarks in a Nowruz address refusing U.S. assistance to help Iran combat the coronavirus
  •  “Hajj Qasem’s martyrdom showed that the Revolution is alive, and everyone saw the passionate turn out in Tehran and other cities. The Iranian nation, with their extraordinary turnout for his funeral, slapped the unjust, lying, rambling enemies and American officials in the face. They try to portray this great Mujahid, Commander, and one who led the fight against terrorism as a terrorist.”

    January 8, 2020 speech following an Iranian missile strike on U.S. troops in Iraq
  • “The matter of revenge is another thing. They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough in countering them. The corruptive presence of the U.S. in the West Asian region must be stopped. Their presence here and everywhere else in the world, has had no results other than wars, division, sedition, destruction, and the demolition of infrastructures. Therefore, their presence in the region must end.”

    January 8, 2020 speech following an Iranian missile strike on U.S. troops in Iraq
  • “Deep inside, western politicians are savage individuals in the true sense of the word. You should not be surprised at this. They wear a suit, they wear a tie, they put on perfume and they carry a Samsonite brief case, but they are savages and they act in a bestial manner in practice.”

    March 21, 2019 at a meeting with pilgrims in Mashhad
  • “Death to America’ means death to Trump and John Bolton and Pompeo… It means death to American leaders, who happen to be these people at this time.”

    February 8, 2019 in a televised speech
  • “The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation. America is the number one enemy of our nation.”

    November 2, 2017 in a televised speech
  • “We actually thank this new president [Trump]! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States. What we have been saying, for over thirty years, about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. ruling establishment, he came out and exposed during the election campaigns and after the elections.”

    February 7, 2017 in a meeting with Iranian Army Air Force commanders and officials
  • “Negotiation with the Americans would not resolve our problems because firstly they are liars, untrustworthy, deceitful and backstabbers.”

    November 23, 2016 marking the anniversary of the seizure of U.S. embassy and subsequent hostage crisis
  • “You heard ‘Death to Israel’, ‘Death to the US.’ You could hear it. The whole nation was shaken by these slogans. It wasn’t only confined to Tehran. The whole of the nation, you could hear, that was covered by this great movement. So we ask Almighty God to accept these prayers by the people of Iran.”

    July 18, 2015 praising Quds Day rallies which took place the week prior
  • "Enemy spy services are behind the efforts to sow disunity among Muslims… A Shia version connected to the British spy agency—the MI6—and a Sunni version, which is the mercenary of the CIA, are both fake and working against Islam."

    -January 9, 2015 remarks implying the U.S. is behind the creation of ISIS
  • "Relations with the U.S. and negotiating with that country, except in specific cases, will have no benefit to the Islamic Republic, but rather will be harmful."

    -August 13, 2014 address to Iran’s foreign minister, ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions
  • "Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. ... This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors' front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought"

    -May 25, 2014 public address to parliament


  • "The Americans are enemies of the Islamic Revolution, they are enemies of the Islamic Republic, they are enemies of this flag that you have raised."

    -February 17, 2014 speech broadcast on state television
  • "We should not make a mistake in knowing the main enemy, who in the present time is global arrogance and the criminal Zionist network… We should properly identify the methods of this hostile enemy which is creating discord among Muslims, promoting moral and political corruption, threatening and tempting outstanding personalities, exerting economic pressures on all nations and arousing doubts about Islamic beliefs… Arrogant governments, headed by the USA, conceal their true character with the help of comprehensive and advanced propaganda tools. By claiming that they support human rights and democracy, they deceive public opinion in different countries."

    -October 14, 2013 speech to Iran's annual Hajj pilgrims
  • "Today, a number of western intellectuals feel that they are in danger on the issue of women. Issues such as homosexuality result from such an outlook. This outlook is, definitely, one of the factors which will lead to the fall of western civilization."

    -May 11, 2013 speech to Iranian women
  • "The European races are barbaric. They wear freshly pressed suits and ties, and they smell of eau de cologne, but deep down, they still have the same barbaric nature known from history. They kill with ease. They murder people without any problem. Therefore, beating women in their homes is of no consequence to the [Europeans] and Americans, whereas in an Islamic environment, it is unimaginable."

    -May 10, 2010 address at a conference for women
  • "Today, you are hated throughout the world. If you don't know this, you should. The peoples burn your flag. The Islamic peoples all over the world chant: 'Death to America!'"

    -March 21, 2009 speech responding to Obama's diplomatic outreach to Iran 
  • "The United States is taking advantage of the weakness of Islamic countries and is bullying and intimidating their governments. The United States, while being submissive to the usurper Zionist regime at all times, is bullying and blackmailing certain Arab governments."

    -January 8, 2007 speech to residents of Qom
  • "Today, America poses a threat to peace and security in the world. Therefore, the slogan ‘Death to America’ is no longer used only by our people. Today, you see throughout the world people setting fire to the effigy of the American president and chanting the slogan ‘Death to America.’ This is because of the American regime's exaggerated demands, its arrogance, its vanity, and its desire to control, and because it is a pawn in the hands of the Zionists."

    March 21, 2006 speech
  • "They say we are violating human rights. They themselves are the greatest violators of human rights. If in the world today... I don't mean only the Islamic world... If a referendum were held throughout the world, you should have no doubt that the current American president would be grouped together with Sharon, Saddam, and Milosevic, as the icons of evil."

    March 21, 2006 speech


  • "They talk about democracy, about human rights, about global security, and about the war on terror, but their evil inner self reveals how warmongering they are, reveals how they trample the rights of the peoples, and reveals their great desire and insatiable appetite for the world's energy sources. The peoples see these things. Day by day, the reputation of liberal democracy and of America - the vanguard of liberal democracy in the world - is diminished in the eyes of the world."

    March 21, 2006 public address
  • "The Western values that have led to the collapse of ethics and spread of revelry, violence, legalization of homosexuality and other such fiascos in their countries, cannot be followed. Islam with its sublime values is the highest source of salvation for human beings." 

    January 9, 2006 speech for Hajj pilgrims
  • "The United States is a monopolist power. It wants the entire world under its hegemony and domination."

    August 19, 2005 sermon made at Tehran Friday Prayers
  • "Our people say 'Death to America,' and this is like saying 'I seek God's refuge from the accursed Satan,' which is recited before any chapter of the Koran, even before 'In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.' Why is this? So the believer will never forget, even for a moment, the presence of Satan. So he will never forget, even for a moment, that Satan is ready to attack him and to destroy his spiritual shield and is faith... The saying 'Death to America' is for this purpose."

    March 14, 2005 speech
  • "What the United States, which has been spearheading the aggression against our Islamic revolution, expects from our nation and government is submission and surrender to its hegemony, and this is the real motive for U.S. claims regarding weapons of mass destruction, human rights or democracy."

    May 12, 2003 address to students at Shahid Beheshti University
  • "More than Iran’s enemies need artillery, guns and so forth, they need to spread cultural values that lead to moral corruption. They have said this many times. I recently read in the news that a senior official in an important American political center, said: 'Instead of bombs, send them miniskirts.' He is right. If they arouse sexual desires in any given country, if they spread unrestrained mixing of men and women, and if they lead youth to behavior to which they are naturally inclined by instincts, there will no longer be any need for artillery and guns against that nation."

     2003 address on Iranian State TV
  • "The U.S. government has not yet lost its insatiable greed for domination of our country. They are still thinking of restoring their evil domination of Iran, which intensified with the coup [of former Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh] on August 19, 1953, and continued until the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. They are still dreaming of the days when the head of state in this country, namely the corrupt and treacherous Mohammad Reza [Pahlavi], made no decisions until he consulted with U.S. officials."

     July 17, 2002 address to education ministry officials 
  • "Ever since the emergence of the cancerous tumor of Zionism in Palestine, the Western countries have been acting in collusion with the Zionist regime. In other words, Israel has been tasked with protecting the regional interests of the Western powers by posing a constant threat to the security of the Islamic countries in the region. And the Western countries, in return, have pledged to fully support this cancerous tumor. Today, it is the United States that is playing a major role in supporting the Zionist entity."

    January 31, 2002 statements to the Islamic World Media conference held in Tehran
  • "The U.S. officials are now revealing their true nature. In his recent speech, the U.S. president spoke like a person who is thirsty for the blood of human beings! He threatened and leveled baseless accusations against other governments and nations. Considering the existing realities on the ground, most of the nations in the world have now come to the conclusion that the U.S. is really the Great Satan. This belief is also substantiated by concrete evidence."

    - January 31, 2002 statements to the Islamic World Media conference held in Tehran
  • "The U.S. is currently leveling baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic. We are proud of this, as we will never welcome praise and admiration from the most hated and the most evil regime in the world."

    -January 31, statements to the Islamic World Media conference held in Tehran
  • "Those at the helm in Washington have no sense of spirituality and have no respect for human rights. If they can, they will deal in the most brutal manner with those nations that refuse to submit to their domination and refuse to bend the knee to them."

    -January 31, 2002 statements to the Islamic World Media conference held in Tehran
  • "The occupation of Palestine is a part of a satanic design by the world domineering powers, perpetrated by the British in the past and being carried out today by the United States to weaken the solidarity of the Islamic world and to sow the seeds of disunity among us."

    -April 24, 2001 speech in Tehran at the International Conference on Palestinian Intifada

“The freedom of speech about which the [Westerners] talk so much does not permit anyone to doubt the myth about the massacre of the Jews, known as the Holocaust.”


“It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.”


“The [2009 election] race between the candidates was completely free, serious, and transparent. Everyone has witnessed that.”

Human Rights and Democracy