(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. presidential campaign and issues raised by nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are evidence that “spirituality and faith are lacking among those in power” in America, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared on Wednesday.
Speaking to university students, Khamenei addressed what an official website paraphrased as “the difficulties and problems perplexing mankind today, and the dead-ends that materialistic thought patterns sustain.”
He told his audience, “The campaigns held during presidential elections in the U.S. and the worries conveyed by the two candidates are a clear example that spirituality and faith are lacking among those in power.”
“Within the next few weeks, one of these two dueling candidates in the U.S. election – whose status and words you can observe – will become the president of a country which holds the world’s most power, wealth, nuclear weapons, and media,” the ayatollah added.
He made the observations about the election campaign hours before the third and final debate between Trump and Clinton. The last one saw Clinton accuse Trump of debasing women, while the GOP nominee highlighted accusations of sexual wrongdoing by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Khamenei regularly speaks reprovingly about Western morality and ethics, painting them as deeply deficient as he extols Islamic values.
At the same time, he heads a regime which the U.S. government says is the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, and whose human rights record draws sharp criticism from experts and rights campaigners.
In his speech Wednesday, Khamenei also reprised complaints about U.S. policy in the aftermath of the nuclear accord which came into effect last January. When Iran makes concessions on one issue, he said, the U.S. simply moves on to demanding concessions on the next one, and so forth.
A raft of sanctions linked to Iran’s suspect nuclear programs have been eased or lifted under the nuclear agreement, but some relating to other conduct, including its ballistic missile activities and support for terrorism, remain in place.
Khamenei told the students that, “if you withdraw on the nuclear issue, they will raise the issue of missiles.”
“And if you continue to withdraw, they will raise the issue of supporting ‘Resistance,’” he continued, using Iran’s term for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. (The official website said Khamenei was drawing attention to “the animosity revealed by satanic powers against any oppositional movement.”)
“And once you withdraw from that,” Khamenei went on, “they will raise the issue of human rights.”
And if Iran accepts U.S. standards on human rights, he added, then the U.S. will then move on to demanding the removal of “religious values” from Iran’s government.
Khamenei’s office indicated that he was referring to a recent interview in which Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. was trying to help Iran benefit from sanctions easing, but that the regime’s behavior wasn’t helping.
“[I]t’s very difficult when Iran is engaged in Yemen and supporting Assad and supporting Hezbollah and firing missiles that people deem to be threatening and so forth. That hugely complicates efforts to move forward rapidly,” Kerry told the Council on Foreign Relations’ publication, Foreign Affairs.
In earlier Iranian response to the Kerry interview, Iranian armed forces spokesman Brig Gen Massoud Jazayeri declared that U.S. “hegemony” is the root cause of all the problems in the region.
“The U.S. presence in the region is a malignant cancerous tumor and the only way to treat it is to remove this infected tumor and kick the U.S. out of the region,” he said.