Rudy Giuliani
Rudy GiulianiReuters

U.S. President Donald Trump will suffocate Iran’s “dictatorial ayatollahs”, former New York Mayor and a close Trump ally Rudy Giuliani said on Saturday, as quoted by Reuters.

Giuliani, who now serves as Trump’s personal lawyer, was addressing a conference of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella bloc of opposition groups in exile that seek an end to Shi’ite Muslim clerical rule in Iran.

“I can’t speak for the president, but it sure sounds like he doesn’t think there is much of a chance of a change in behavior unless there is a change in people and philosophy,” Giuliani told Reuters in an interview.

“We are the strongest economy in the world ... and if we cut you off then you collapse,” he added, pointing to recent protests in Iran.

In May, Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran deal, which saw Iran restricting its enrichment program and in return won relief from sanctions.

European signatories to the deal are trying to save the accord, which they see as crucial to forestalling an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Trump supporters have spoken at NCRI events in the past, including national security adviser John Bolton, who, before taking his post at the same conference last July, told the group’s members they would be ruling Iran before 2019 and their goal should be regime change.

Bolton said in May that the administration’s policy was to make sure Iran never got nuclear weapons and not regime change.

Giuliani said Europe should be “ashamed” of itself.

“Anybody who thinks the Ayatollahs are honest people is a fool. They are crooks and that’s what Europe is propping up ... murderers and sponsors of terrorism. Instead of taking an opportunity to topple them they are now left propping them up,” he told Reuters.

Giuliani has in the past repeatedly spoken out against the Iran deal.