Ayatollah Khamenei: Ideology and Policies

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 Program

“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

  • "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 US 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."

    -Octobter 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