Rouhani: US sanctions are ‘terrorism,’ will lead to deluge of drugs and bombs

President also claims the number of people seeking asylum will increase as a result of penalties imposed by Washington

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, August 6, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP, File)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, August 6, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP, File)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday said US sanctions were “economic terrorism,” and would harm efforts to fight terror and drug-smuggling, as well as lead to an increase in the number of asylum seekers.

“I warn those who impose sanctions that if Iran’s ability to fight drugs and terrorism are affected… you will not be safe from a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism,” he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

Washington has reimposed an oil embargo and other damaging sanctions on Iran since pulling out in May from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.

“America’s unjust and illegal sanctions against the honorable nation of Iran have targeted our nation in a clear instance of terrorism,” Rouhani said in a televised speech from a conference on terrorism and regional cooperation attended by parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (center) gestures in a group photo with Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi (2nd left), Afghan Parliament Speaker Asad Qaiser (3rd left), Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Chen Zhu (right), vice chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress Binali Yildirim (2nd right), Turkey’s Grand National Assembly Speaker; and Ali Larijani (4th right), Iran’s Parliament Speaker, during the 2nd Speakers’ Conference in Tehran, Iran, on December 8, 2018. (AFP)

“We are facing an all-out assault which is not only threatening our independence and identity, but also is bent on breaking our long-standing ties,” he added.

Rouhani drew parallels with the sanctions and other pressure faced by the countries attending the conference.

“When they put pressure on China’s trade, we are all  harmed… By punishing Turkey, we are all punished. Any time they threaten Russia, we too consider our security to be endangered,” he said.

“When they impose sanctions on Iran, they deprive all of us of the benefits of international trade, energy security and sustainable development. And in fact, they impose sanctions on everyone.

“We are here to say that we don’t intend to tolerate such insolence.”

Rouhani also warned Europe — which has strongly objected to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal — that much is at stake in its efforts to bypass US sanctions and maintain trade with Iran.

“They should know that by sanctioning Iran, they would harm our ability to fight drugs and terrorism,” Rouhani said, referring to Iran’s efforts to combat smuggling, particularly from Afghanistan.

The European Union is working on a payment system, known as the “special purpose vehicle,” to keep money flowing into Iran, but has struggled to find a host since many countries fear repercussions from the Trump administration.

The conference in Tehran was the second regional meeting on terrorism — the first was held last December in Islamabad.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday that the United States is selling weaponry to Middle Eastern countries beyond the region’s needs and turning the area into a “tinderbox,” Reuters reported, citing state news agency IRNA.

“The level of arms sales by the Americans is unbelievable and much beyond regional needs, and this points to the very dangerous policies followed by the Americans,” Zarif said.

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