US Iran's 'No 1 enemy' despite nuclear deal: cleric

Head of Iran's Assembly of Experts, Mohammad Yazdi, attends a session of Iran's Assembly of Experts, on Tuesday in Teheran.
Head of Iran's Assembly of Experts, Mohammad Yazdi, attends a session of Iran's Assembly of Experts, on Tuesday in Teheran. PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - The United States remains Iran's "number one enemy" despite a recent nuclear deal with world powers, the chief of Teheran's top clerical committee said on Tuesday, Iranian media reported.

The Assembly of Experts is among Iran's most influential institutions, comprising 86 elected clerics who appoint and can dismiss the country's supreme leader.

It is led by the ultraconservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi.

The nuclear agreement should not "change our foreign policy" of opposition to America, "our number one enemy, whose crimes are uncountable", Yazdi said in a speech opening the annual two-day assembly meeting.

"The US and Israel are the source of the situation in the region and (their) goal is to protect the Zionist regime in the Middle East," he was quoted as saying, blaming the two countries for the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Echoing Yazdi's remarks, the leader of the Islamic republic's top military force, the Revolutionary Guards, said the US would always be "the Great Satan".

"Do not be fooled by the new American language," General Mohammad Ali Jafari told reporters.

"The hostility of the United States towards the Iranian people has not diminished, but actually increased... they use other methods," he added, according to the Guards website Sepah News.

President Hassan Rouhani, who as a cleric is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, took office in 2013 and has since reached out to the West for better relations.

The nuclear agreement reached on July 14 with six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - has helped revive Iran's political standing with the European countries.

Several high-level European delegations have visited Teheran since the deal.

But despite the nuclear talks and the intricate role US Secretary of State John Kerry played in getting the deal across the line, there is currently little prospect of normal relations.

The two countries severed ties in 1980 after the hostage taking of American diplomats by Islamist students.