“Malaysia does not support the reimposition of the unilateral sanctions by the US against Iran,” he told the Doha Forum, also attended by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Saturday.
Last year, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord and reinstated sanctions to choke Iran’s oil exports and isolate its economy as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran to force it to renegotiate a new deal.
A week ago, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced what he called a $39bn “budget of resistance” to counter US sanctions following a fuel price rise that sparked deadly nationwide protests
Malaysia and other countries have lost “a big market” because of the sanctions on Iran, said Mahathir.
“Such sanctions clearly violate the United Nations Charter and international law. Sanctions can only be applied by the United Nations in accordance with the charter,” he added.
The 93-year-old Malaysian leader also suggested he may seek to stay in power beyond 2020.
Asked if he would step down in 2020, he said he wanted to fix problems created by the previous government before resigning. He also said he could not guarantee who would succeed him as prime minister.
Mahathir promised on December 10 to hand over power to his anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim, in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him, and that he may hand over power after a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020.
Mahathir was unexpectedly elected in 2018 as the head of a coalition government whose largest party is led by Anwar, 72, who has been jailed twice on separate counts of sodomy and for corruption – charges he said were political.
The two-day Doha Forum, which defines itself as a global platform for dialogue, will discuss various topics under the theme of Reimagining Governance in a Multi-Polar World.