Rouhani: US sanctions are ‘economic war’ on Iran
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Rouhani: US sanctions are ‘economic war’ on Iran

Tehran inaugurates final phase of new massive oil refinery built in defiance of reimposed American economic measures

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)
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)

Iran’s president on Monday described the US sanctions imposed on Iran as an “economic war,” which he characterized as “more difficult than military war.”

Hassan Rouhani spoke at the inauguration of the third and final phase of the sprawling Persian Gulf Star refinery built in the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Construction of the facility began in 2006, the same year the United Nations voted to impose strict trade and economic sanctions on Iran for failing to comply with previous UN resolutions and international regulations on its nuclear enrichment program.

The refinery has the capacity of 400,000 barrels a day, or about 20 percent of Iran’s 2.1 million barrels of daily refining capacity.

Rouhani praised the inauguration, saying in a televised speech that the refinery opened despite America’s “imposing the harshest sanctions” on Iran.

On the eve of renewed sanctions by Washington, Iranian protesters burn a dollar banknote and a US makeshift flag during a demonstration outside the former US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on November 4, 2018, marking the anniversary of its storming by student protesters that triggered a hostage crisis in 1979. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Those sanctions were eased in 2015 when Iran and world powers signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, under which Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear program for 15 years in return for the easing of sanctions.

The Trump administration last year pulled the US out of the nuclear 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,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said when the sanctions were reimposed.

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.

Iran rejects the US pullout from the deal as a violation of international law.

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