Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that new US sanctions against senior Iranian officials including top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif showed Washington is “lying” about offering to negotiate.
“At the same time as you call for negotiations you seek to sanction the foreign minister? It’s obvious that you’re lying,” Rouhani said in a meeting with ministers broadcast live on TV.
He also said the White House is “afflicted by mental retardation.”
His comments came as US National Security Adviser John Bolton said in Jerusalem that Washington had “held the door open to real negotiations” but that “in response, Iran’s silence has been deafening.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the sanctions on its leaders represent the “permanent closure” of diplomacy with Washington.
“Imposing fruitless sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy is the permanent closure of the path to diplomacy with Trump’s desperate government,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
Washington imposed new sanctions against supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Monday as well as blacklisting Foreign Minister Zarif, its latest salvo in a tense standoff that has raised fears of a regional conflict.
“Trump’s government is destroying all established international mechanisms for keeping global peace and security,” Mousavi added.
Zarif responded Monday to the sanctions, saying that leaders in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US “despise diplomacy and thirst for war.”
US President Donald Trump also imposed new sanctions Monday against top Iranian military chiefs, pressuring the country it has threatened with “obliteration” if a war breaks out.
Washington’s move came after Iran shot down a US spy drone last week and Trump authorized a retaliatory strike but canceled it at the last minute.
That follows a series of attacks on ships in sensitive Gulf waters that the US has blamed on Iran — allegations hotly denied by Tehran. The incidents came a year after Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral pact with Iran over its nuclear program.
US media have also reported Trump secretly authorized cyberattacks against Iran’s missile defense systems and a spy network, but Tehran says no damage was done.
Trump called the punitive measures “a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”
Tehran and Washington broke off diplomatic relations in 1980 over the hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran following Iran’s Islamic Revolution.