Rouhani calls US sanctions ‘a terrorist act’
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Rouhani calls US sanctions ‘a terrorist act’

Iranian president tells cabinet ministers the ‘struggle between Iran and America is currently at a maximum’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the death of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in Tehran, Iran, on January 10, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the death of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in Tehran, Iran, on January 10, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at US-imposed sanctions as “a terrorist act” during a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

He said US-Iran relations were at a low point following the US withdrawal last May from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposition of US sanctions, particularly targeting the country’s vital oil sector, according to comments from the meeting released by state media outlet IRIB and translated by Reuters.

“The struggle between Iran and America is currently at a maximum. America has employed all its power against us,” Rouhani told ministers. “The US pressures on firms and banks to halt business with Iran is 100 percent a terrorist act,” he was quoted as saying.

The Trump administration maintains that the 2015 nuclear deal, celebrated by European powers and the previous US administration of former president Barack Obama, was insufficient because it did not include measures to curb the Iranian regime’s ambitions in the region and its ballistic missile program.

US President Donald Trump last year pulled the US out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, targeting its vital oil sector.

“Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, when the sanctions were reimposed.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 16, 2019. (Christof STACHE / AFP)

Last week, US Vice President Mike Pence demanded that European Union allies follow Washington’s lead in withdrawing from the landmark Iran nuclear deal and cease efforts he said were designed to evade US sanctions.

Speaking at a Middle East conference in Poland, Pence accused Iran of being the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, adding that it was the “greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East,” and accused the clerical regime of plotting a “new Holocaust” with its regional ambitions.

Rouhani’s comments were the latest in a string of statements by the Iranian president in recent weeks lambasting US sanctions policy.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dedicates the final phase of a new oil refinery in the city of Bandar Abbas, Iran, February 18, 2019. (Official website photo)

On Monday, Rouhani called the sanctions an “economic war” against Iran, warning that “economic war is more difficult than military war.”

Rouhani spoke as he inaugurated the third and final phase of the sprawling Persian Gulf Star refinery built in the Persian Gulf port city of Bandar Abbas.

Construction of the refinery began in 2006 and it now has the capacity of 400,000 barrels a day, which amounts to about 20 percent of Iran’s 2.1 million barrels of daily refining capacity.

Rouhani praised the inauguration, saying in a televised speech that it comes despite America “imposing the harshest sanctions” on Iran.

“We have inaugurated huge national projects in this situation,” Rouhani said at the inauguration, adding that this comes despite efforts by the US, Israel, and their allies to increase pressure on Iran.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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