Iran says US will ‘regret’ renewed sanctions, vows Tehran won’t cave to pressure
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Iran says US will ‘regret’ renewed sanctions, vows Tehran won’t cave to pressure

Maintaining defiant posture, Iranian FM calls Washington’s demands of the Islamic Republic ‘absurd,’ also alleges ‘appalling atrocities’ by Israel, Saudi Arabia

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appearing in a YouTube video on November 6, 2018. (screen capture: YouTube)
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appearing in a YouTube video on November 6, 2018. (screen capture: YouTube)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to YouTube on Tuesday to dismiss US sanctions and Washington’s demands of change from Tehran as “absurd, unlawful and fundamentally flawed” and maintained the Trump administration would come to “regret this unwise move.”

“The US administration appears to believe that imposing draconian sanctions on Iran will bring about such pain to our nation that it will force us to submit to its will,” Zarif said in a video message, posted in English and Persian.

“We have weathered difficult times in the face of 40 years of American hostility relying solely on our own resources, and today we and our partners across the globe will ensure that our people are least affected by this indiscriminate assault,” he said.

Washington’s decision to scrap the multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions — with the last tranche hitting on Monday — was “pushing it further into global isolation,” Zarif claimed.

The Persian version said the US “will regret this unwise move” and emphasized that the sanctions were aimed at “separating people from each other and from the establishment.”

The United States would be better off rethinking its “unconditional support” for Saudi Arabia and Israel, which has “blinded the US to their appalling atrocities,” Zarif said.

“President (Donald) Trump’s predecessors also began crafting their Iran policy with similar bravado but came around to accepting and respecting the reality of Iran as they became more experienced in office,” he added.

Earlier, Zarif took to Twitter to mock some of the targets of the sanctions, describing it as a “desperate” psychological ploy.

“The US designated a bank that was closed 6 years ago, and a ship that sank in a widely televised saga,” he wrote, ending the tweet with “(hashtag)USisIsolated.”

Zarif was one of a number of Iranian officials on Tuesday for who mocked the US sanctions list for including mothballed Boeing 747s, a bank that closed years earlier and a sunken oil tanker that exploded off China months ago.

The new list of sanctions, which also aims to cut Iran’s vital oil industry off from international sales, also included for the first time its state airline and its atomic energy commission, further highlighting the maximalist approach of US President Donald Trump’s administration.

The US Treasury Department imposed penalties on more than 700 Iranian and Iranian-linked individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels in the new sanctions. Among those are 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, and more than 200 people and ships.

However, scattered among the list are surprising entries, like the crude oil tanker Sanchi. That vessel collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast in January, killing all 32 sailors aboard.

Another entry was Iran’s Tat Bank, which closed in 2012.

For the first time, the US targeted Iran Air. It also sanctioned the state carrier’s mothballed fleet of Boeing 747s, which were manufactured in the 1970s.

It also appeared that the US for the first time was directly sanctioning the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the government agency that oversees Iran’s nuclear program. Prior sanctions targeted specific subsidiaries of the organization.

A Boeing 747 of the state carrier IranAir is seen at Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran, June 2003. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)

Eshaq Jahangiri, President Hassan Rouhani’s senior vice president, also criticized the sanctions.

“Americans think their list is more effective if it is longer,” Jahangiri said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. He said he had discussed the list with other officials, with many saying it was “less than what we expected.”

Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in 2016 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Still, Jahangiri warned that “Americans intend to damage economy of the country” through psychological warfare.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis. Its national currency, the rial, now trades at 150,000 to one US dollar; a year ago, it was about 40,500. The economic chaos sparked mass anti-government protests at the end of last year, resulting in nearly 5,000 reported arrests and at least 25 people being killed.

Sporadic smaller demonstrations still reportedly erupt from time to time.

The new sanctions particularly hurt Iran’s vital oil industry, which provides a crucial source of hard currency. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions already had cost Iran the sale of over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Analysts feared in the run-up to the sanctions that global oil prices could spike on tight supply and increasing demand. However, the Trump administration allowed some of its allies — Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — as well as rival China to continue to purchase Iranian oil as long as they work to reduce imports to zero. The price of benchmark Brent crude has dropped from over $80 a barrel in recent days.

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