Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has accused the US of continuing to act against Iran despite removing the sanctions "on paper." Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama addressed Iran via a video message.
State TV broadcast Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's New Year's speech on Sunday live from the northern city of Mashhad. The ayatollah said that US policies were causing business troubles for Iran.
"The US Treasury ... acts in such a way that big corporations, big institutions and big banks do not dare to come and deal with Iran," he said in the address marking Newroz, or Iranian New Year.
The US has rolled back a number of sanctions since last year's nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. The accord opened doors for a number of large, Western-backed projects in the formerly isolated country.
US candidates 'vilify' Tehran
However, the US still clashes with Iran on a range of issues, with Washington accusing Iranian leaders of sponsoring terrorism and slamming Tehran in the UN for testing ballistic missiles.
According to Khamenei, the US is now using "roundabout paths to prevent the Islamic Republic from achieving its targets."
"The Americans have not acted on their promises and (only) removed the sanctions on paper," Khamenei added.
Khamenei also commented on the US primaries, where a number of presidential hopefuls leveled accusations against Iran. "The candidates for the American presidency have competed to vilify Iran in their speeches, and this is a sign of hostility," Iran's Supreme Leader said in the Sunday speech.
Obama looking ahead
Hours before Khamenei's speech was broadcast, US President Obama released his annual message celebrating Nowruz for Iranian citizens.
"Every year as president I've taken this opportunity, the hope of spring, to speak directly with the people of Iran," Obama said in an online video. "Now, for the first time in decades, there's a chance for a different future," he added.
Sunday marked the first New Year celebration after the nuclear deal was reached last July. In his speech, Obama pointed out that the accord "was never intended to resolve all the disputes between our two nations."
"But even as our two governments continue to have serious disagreements, the fact that we are now talking to each other on a regular basis, for the first time in decades, gives us an opportunity, a window, to resolve other issues," Obama said.
Khamenei rules supreme
Commenting on Obama's address, Khamenei said there was no guarantee that the next US president would honor commitments made under the Obama administration.
"From one hand they send a New Year message and on the other hand they have kept economic sanctions," against Iran. "This is enmity," he added.
As the Supreme Leader and the official head of state, the cleric Khamenei has a final say on all important policies in Iran. His stance may pose a difficult challenge to the plans pushed by the reformist president Hassan Rouhani, the architect of the nuclear deal.
dj/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)