14:23 GMT +318 August 2019
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    Iranian demonstrators carry a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and an effigy of US President Donald Trump during a rally in the capital Tehran, on May 10 2019

    'America Couldn't Do Anything' to Stop Iran Even If It Were to Seek Nukes – Supreme Leader Khamenei

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    Tensions between Washington and Tehran began escalating a year ago, when the US unilaterally scrapped a 2015 nuclear deal which offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for a halt to its suspected military-related nuclear activities.

    Iran has no desire to pursue weapons technology, but the US would not be able to stop Tehran if it did, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said.

    "We are opposed to nuclear weapons, and I have issued a fatwa (religious decree) banning nuclear weapons, but even if we wanted to have them, America could not do anything" to stop Iran, Khamenei said.

    Speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in Tehran in a bid to help ease tensions between Iran and the US, Khamenei said he had nothing to say to President Trump.

    "I have no response for him and will not answer him," the leader said, adding he didn't "consider Trump as a person worthy of exchanging messages with."

    U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a bilateral meeting in Tokyo, Japan May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
    © REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
    U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a bilateral meeting in Tokyo, Japan May 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Iran has "no trust in America and will not repeat the bitter experience of the previous negotiations with America," Khamenei said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal which Washington unexpectedly pulled out of in May 2018, replacing sanctions with a series of tough banking and energy sanctions.

    Saying that Iran would not negotiate with the US "under pressure," Khamenei accused the Trump administration of planning a regime change in Iran.

    In a tweet appearing on the Khamenei's English-language Twitter feed summing up the Abe meeting, the supreme leader added that the US has no "competency to say which country should or shouldn't possess nuclear weapons," given its own nuclear stockpile, which numbers in the thousands.

    Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Khamenei, Prime Minister Abe said President Donald Trump told him that he "does not wish to see escalation of tensions."

    In early May, the US scrapped sanctions waivers for more than half a dozen major importers of Iranian oil, including Japan. The US also sent a carrier strike group, fighters, bombers, Patriot missile systems, an amphibious landing ship and 1,500 troops to the Middle East. On the one year anniversary of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Tehran said the fate of the treaty was uncertain amid its other signatories' apparent inability to help the country deal with the tough US sanctions regime.

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