Iran currently is confronting “the greatest pressure and economic sanctions of the past 40 years,” the Islamic Republic’s President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, addressing crippling sanctions renewed by Washington last year.
In comments published on his official website, Rouhani stressed that “our problems are mainly due to pressure by the US and its followers, and the government and the Islamic system should not be blamed.”
He vowed that the nation would “endure” outside strong-arming efforts. “The US administration will definitely fail in its latest move against the Iranian nation,” he said. “Nobody can harm us as long as we follow the Supreme Leader.”
Rouhani spoke at a ceremony honoring the Islamic Republic’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as the country prepares to mark 40 years since the February 1979 Islamic revolution.
In May of last year US President Donald Trump decided to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. The move touched off a record drop in Iran’s currency, prompted an exodus of foreign firms, plunged the nation into a recession and renewed its economic isolation.
Trump called the accord “the worst deal ever” and said it had given the US nothing. The administration bashed the agreement for its sunset clauses that allow certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to expire, its failure to prevent Iranian ballistic missile testing and its continued support of regional terror groups.
Rouhani on Wednesday said “Iran’s highest political pride in [recent] decades and centuries was Iran’s powerful talks with the six major powers, and the victories that were handed over to Iran in various areas in the talks. It will never be lost.”
He asserted that the international community was on Tehran’s side, saying “the entire world is condemning the US conspiracies against the Iranian nation and support Iran in this regard.”
The European Union has condemned Washington’s renewal of sanctions and is working on a legal entity through which businesses could trade with Iran and avoid US sanctions.
However, there have been some indications that European powers are also gravitating toward the US position. Iran’s recent work on launching satellites into space has faced criticism from the West as a possible effort to advance its missile program, since the rockets used in the two programs depend on very similar technology.
The EU has commended Iran for sticking to its commitments under the nuclear deal, but has growing concerns about Tehran’s ballistic missile program, as well as its human rights record, its interference in Middle East conflicts and recent attempted attacks against opposition groups in Europe.
Earlier this month French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris was ready to impose new sanctions on Tehran if talks on its missile program and its regional influence fail to make progress.
Iran’s economic crisis has led to sporadic protests against the government in the past year.
The protests have seen unusual scenes of demonstrators chanting against continued Iranian spending of billions of dollars on regional proxy wars and support for terrorist groups, which many say has meant less investment in the struggling economy at home.
In recent years, Iran has provided financial aid to Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Shiite militias in Iraq. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Tehran has poured a reported $6 billion into propping up president Bashar Assad’s government.
Rouhani has blamed the spontaneous demonstrations on “foreign media propaganda,” and has accused the US of waging “an economic war” against Tehran.