Iranian officials denounced on Sunday measures announced by the US Treasury and State Department to penalize several companies and individuals for violating sanctions levied against the Islamic Republic, most of which are related to the dispute over the country’s nuclear program.
News of the measures came weeks before scheduled negotiations between Tehran and international powers.
Washington said that the decision was a clear indication that it would not tolerate violations of current sanctions while negotiations were taking place.
The negotiations are largely centered around easing Iran’s economic woes in exchange for the country’s abandonment of its alleged pursuit of nuclear arms.
Iran claims that its nuclear program is purely for civilian use and strongly denies accusations that it is trying to obtain nuclear weapons.
According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news conference on Sunday that “if deemed necessary” his country “can take actions that would be unpleasant to the other side.” Zarif further added that the penalties were levied in order to appease “pressure groups in the US that are against any nuclear deal,” a reference frequently used by regime officials to refer to pro-Israel lobbying groups.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, was highly critical of the penalties, asserting on Saturday that mistrust was “further deepened” and that the decision was “not compatible with the atmosphere of negotiations.”
“Some sanctions like those against drugs or food products are crimes against humanity,” Rouhani added. “We fight and go around these sanctions and we are proud of that.”
The bevy of international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program have hobbled the country’s economy. Advocates claim that the sanctions have forced Tehran back to the negotiating table.
Rouhani pledged that talks with the P5+1 powers — the United States, the United Kingdom Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — would continue despite the new penalties.
The talks are set to resume in mid September at the annual UN General Assembly Meeting in New York, ahead of a November 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive solution for Tehran’s nuclear program.