Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has accused the United States of “savagery” for inflicting $150bn of damage on Iran because of sanctions, and said Iranians should direct their anger at the White House.
“With their illegal and inhuman sanctions and terrorist actions, the Americans have inflicted 150 billion dollars of damage on the people of Iran,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, his voice shaking with anger, on Saturday.
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“We haven’t seen such an extent of savagery … The address for Iranian people’s curses and hatred is the White House.”
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.
Iran, in turn, has gradually breached the central limits in that deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including on the size of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium as well as the level of purity to which it was allowed to enrich uranium.
Washington imposed new sanctions on Monday on Iran’s defence ministry and others involved in its nuclear and weapons programme.
On Thursday, Washington blacklisted several Iranian officials and entities over alleged gross violations of human rights, including imposing sanctions on a judge it said was involved in the case of an Iranian wrestler sentenced to death.
Rouhani gave no details on the breakdown of the economic damage he said had been incurred because of the sanctions.
“They prevented the purchase of medicines and food by imposing unjust, illegal, and inhuman sanctions,” Rouhani said.
While humanitarian supplies such as medicine are theoretically exempt from US sanctions, many companies fear breaking the rules and have avoided transactions with Tehran.
Rouhani saved particular criticism for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He called him “a gentleman who presents himself as the minister of foreign affairs but who is [in reality] the minister of crimes”.
Washington’s partners at the UN Security Council have refused to reimpose sanctions and say the US actions are legally unfounded since it left the deal.
In a letter dated September 23 and made public on Saturday by the UN, US Ambassador Kelly Craft called on the secretariat to “take the steps necessary to re-establish the committee established pursuant to Resolution 1737 (2006) and its Panel of Experts” to monitor compliance with international sanctions.
Tehran and Washington, longtime enemies, have not maintained diplomatic relations for more than 40 years.