President Joe Biden vowed to "liberate" Iran on Thursday but said protesters were trying to "liberate" Iran as anti-government unrest gripped the country.
His comments sparked swift condemnation from Tehran, where hardline Islamic Republic President Ebrahim Raisi was speaking at a rally marking his 1979 takeover of the US embassy.
The protests that erupted after the death of his 22-year-old Mahsa Amini have posed one of the greatest challenges to the theocracy that has ruled the country since the 1979 revolution. The Biden administration is also under pressure from Iranian-American activists to do more.
“Don’t worry, we’re gonna free Iran,” Biden told supporters in a campaign speech in California late Thursday, asking viewers to comment on the ongoing protests seems to have urged “They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon,” he added.
The president addressed Democrat Mike Levin's campaign rally at MiraCosta College near San Diego. He declined to comment and did not mention specific actions the United States could take.
The Biden administration on Wednesday said it would seek to exclude Iran from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women over the government's stance on women's rights and its continued crackdown on weeks of protests.
“Change in Iran should only come from within Iran. But that does not absolve the world of the obligation to stand with the Iranian people as they protest for women, for life, and for freedom,” said Linda Thomas Green. Ambassador Field said, repeating Hallmark's slogan for more than six weeks of protest.
Washington has also imposed new sanctions on Tehran for its actions and support for Russia's war in Ukraine.
Iran has dismissed international criticism of its handling of the protests, denying human rights violations of Iranian citizens and killing unarmed protesters, and portraying the unrest as a Western conspiracy.