15:16 GMT15 January 2021
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    Last week, the US Secretary of State accused “Iran-backed militias” of responsibility for an attack on the Baghdad Green Zone. Tehran dismissed the claims, calling the timing of the attack “suspicious” and stressing that its principled policy is to never target foreign diplomatic facilities.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has taken to Twitter to attack Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for allegedly trying to cover up the failures of the Trump administration’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran by using “cheap propaganda”.

    “After 4 years of ‘Maximum Failure’, @SecPompeo is desperately turning to cheap propaganda to dress up the disaster he has promoted and instigated as a success,” Khatibzadeh wrote.

    “News flash: People aren’t naïve. And the world has refused to be held hostage to your bullying. Good riddance,” the spokesman added.

    On Tuesday, Pompeo fired off a fresh attack on Tehran on Twitter, accusing the “Iranian regime” of sowing “instability and terror, threatening the US and our allies”.

    Pompeo accompanied the tweet with a three minute State Department video explaining the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran, reiterating tired claims about the Islamic Republic being the world’s “largest state sponsor of terrorism”, accusing Tehran of a host of crimes ranging from assassinations and illegal detentions to claims that the country carried out missile attacks against Saudi oil facilities in 2019. The video also echoed Israeli claims about Iran’s alleged “covert nuclear weapons programme”.

    Iran maintains that it has no nuclear weapons programme, and has denied US and Saudi claims that it was involved in the Saudi oil refinery attacks. The country openly admitted to launching over a dozen ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq in January, calling the strikes revenge for the 3 January assassination of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

    U.S. Soldiers stand amid damage at a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base, in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra)
    © AP Photo / Qassim Abdul-Zahra
    U.S. Soldiers stand amid damage at a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base, in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East.

    Iranian-US relations have remained icy for decades since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which deposed a pro-US regime. They worsened significantly under Trump, who pulled Washington out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and slapped the Islamic Republic with crushing economic, energy and banking sector sanctions.

    In 2019, a US military buildup in the Middle East, a series of oil tanker sabotage incidents and ship seizures and the shootdown of a $220 million US drone over Iranian airspace in the Strait of Hormuz brought the two nations to the brink of war. In late 2019, the US blamed Iran for an attack on an American military base in Iraq, and claimed the country was behind protests outside the US Embassy in Baghdad. In January, the US killed Soleimani in Baghdad. Iran responded with missile strikes against two US bases, giving over 100 troops traumatic brain injuries.

    The international community, including many of the US’s allies, have for the most part refused to toe the Trump administration’s line on Iran. In 2018, other signatories to the nuclear deal, including Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the European Union refused to follow Washington in scrapping their commitments to the treaty. In 2020, the US launched a diplomatic campaign at the United Nations to try to prolong the international arms embargo against Iran indefinitely. The campaign failed, with every member of the Security Council except for the US and the Dominican Republic voting against extending the embargo.

    Iranian leaders have expressed cautious optimism about the incoming Biden administration rejoining the nuclear deal and easing sanctions pressure, but have also warned repeatedly that the deal was not up for renegotiation, be it under Trump or his successor.

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