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Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Explains 'Death to America' Slogan

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei clarified what "Death to America" means.
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Those "Death to America" chants often shouted in Iran? They're not about what you might think, according to Iran's supreme leader.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that the slogan — a frequent feature of anti-American rallies in Iran — was aimed at the U.S. government and not its people.

Image: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses students in Tehran on Tuesday.Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

"Your 'Death to America' slogan, and the cries by the Iranian nation, have strong logical support behind them," he told Iranian students in Tehran, according to The Associated Press. "Obviously by 'Death to America', we don't mean death to the American people. The American nation is just like the rest of the nations. It ... means death to U.S. policies and its arrogance."

Relations between the U.S. and Iran have improved somewhat under current President Hassan Rouhani and with the announcement of a nuclear deal this summer.

FROM 2013: Will Rouhani's Outreach Kill 'Death to America' Chants?

Khamenei has thrown his weight behind the nuclear deal, but also accused President Barack Obama of threatening Iran.

Shortly after ordering the July 14 deal be implemented subject to certain conditions, a message posted on a Twitter account affiliated with Khamenei said "deceptive" U.S. involvement in the nuclear talks was aimed at advancing "hostile policies" toward Iran.e country's state TV on Tuesday.

Image: Anti-American protesters in Iran mark takeover of US embassy
Iranian protesters burn U.S. flags during a 2013 demonstration marking the anniversary of U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran.ABEDIN TAHRKENAREH / EPA file