On November 4, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned, blaming Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah for destabilizing the region. The Arab world would "cut off the hands that wickedly extend to it [Iran]," he warned. Hariri, leader of the Future Movement Party, is the leader of Lebanon’s main Sunni Muslim political bloc and a close ally of Saudi Arabia. It was Hariri’s second visit to the kingdom in less than a week.
On November 1, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the United States is Iran’s top enemy and that “resistance” is the only way to counter it. Citing President Donald Trump’s recent characterization of the Islamic Republic as a “terrorist nation like few others,” Khamenei argued that Washington is hostile towards Iran’s government and people.
On November 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran for the first time since 2015. In a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Putin voiced support for the nuclear deal and said that Russia objects to “any uniliteral change” to it.
On September 25, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq held a referendum on independence. Nearly 93 percent of 4.5 million voters supported turning the KRG and some disputed areas into an independent state. Iranian leaders were largely critical of the KRG’s decision to hold the vote, saying that it would bring further instability to the war-torn region.
On October 18, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned President Trump’s policy towards Iran and the nuclear deal as “nonsense.” But he emphasized that Iran will not be the first one to tear up the agreement. Khamenei also expressed frustration with European powers. He urged them to oppose U.S. moves and to avoid interfering with Iran’s defense affairs.
U.S. officials have defended President Trump’s new Iran policy since his October 13 speech, in which he decertified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. The following are excerpted remarks.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
On October 13, former U.S. officials involved with negotiations, development and implementation of the Iran nuclear deal held a press call to discuss President Trump’s impending decision to decertify the agreement. The officials included Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, and Robert Malley, former Senior Adviser to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region.
In response to President Trump’s speech on October 13, the other signatories to the nuclear deal made the following statements.
Declaration by the Heads of State and Government of France, Germany and the United Kingdom
We, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision not to recertify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to Congress and are concerned by the possible implications.
On October 13, President Donald Trump announced that he would not recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Members of Congress weighed in during the runup to and after President Trump’s speech. Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would be a violation of the deal.