SUPREME leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has taunted US President Donald Trump over his decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying: “You cannot do a damn thing.”

His comments came in Tehran, after Trump announced he was renewing sanctions on Iran. Khamenei said Trump’s remarks threatened Iran’s people and its theocratic government.

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Under Iran’s clerical regime, he has the final say on all state matters and his exhortation followed a pattern of Iranian leaders declaring their nation’s ability to resist foreign pressure or interference.

Meanwhile, Iranian legislators set fire to a US flag inside parliament, shouting: “Death to America.”

The government backlash reflected public anger in Iran over Trump’s decision, which threatens to destroy the landmark 2015 agreement. Iranian officials, including the parliament’s speaker, have said they hope Europe will work with them to preserve the deal, but many are pessimistic.

MPs, including a Shia cleric, held the flaming flag alight as their colleagues joined their chants. They also burned a piece of paper representing the nuclear deal and stomped on the papers’ ashes.

The agreement imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for the lifting of most US and international sanctions. But it came with time limits and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile initiative or its regional policies in Syria and elsewhere.

Trump has repeatedly pointed to those omissions in referring to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said he would send his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to the countries still in the deal – the UK, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Iran hopes the EU will pass laws to protect European firms from any potential US sanctions. EU officials have suggested they will do what they can to salvage the agreement.

Rouhani also made a point of stressing that Iran, at any time, could resume its nuclear programme: “So, if necessary, we can begin our industrial enrichment without any limitations,” he said.

“Until implementation of this decision, we will wait for some weeks and will talk with our friends and allies and other signatories of the nuclear deal ... and who will remain loyal to it.”

Iran’s poor economy and unemployment levels, along with high levels of corruption, sparked nationwide protests in December and January that saw at least 25 people killed and 5000 arrested.

Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the opposition in exile National Council of Resistance of Iran, said ending the “religious fascism” ruling Iran was a prerequisite for peace, democracy, security, and stability: “As the nationwide uprising in December and January demonstrated, the Iranian people want to be liberated from religious oppression and despotism.

“The United Nations Security Council must take up and refer to an international tribunal the dossier on the leaders of the Iranian regime’s terrorism and countless crimes against the Iranian people.”