‘Iran will not give in to US pressure’
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday the country is in a battle with the United States, but vowed that the nation will be able to handle the economic pressure of new US sanctions.
In a televised speech, Rouhani said the US is trying to damage the country by creating a “psychological, economic and political warfare.”
“Today, can America use psychological and economic and eventually political warfare to break our nation? A proud nation that has stood up for its values throughout history; a nation that has resisted and stood strong and is ready to give its life and blood for Islam and Iran,” Rouhani said.
“The US cannot defeat our nation, our enemies are not able to get us to their knees," he said.
Rouhani added the US withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran at a great cost.
“The Islamic Republic’s tactful performance forced the Americans to leave the JCPOA while bearing the highest cost,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement that was signed between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in 2015.
According to Iran's president, the withdrawal was “the worst and most pathetic choice” made by Americans, which hurt their reputation on the international stage.
The agreement, which ended nuclear-related sanctions against Iran in exchange for certain changes to the country’s nuclear program, was passed in the form of a UN Security Council resolution.
US President Donald Trump, however, sparked international criticism when he announced that Washington was withdrawing from the deal and reimposing the sanctions against Iran in early May.
Rouhani further said the US was hoping all along that Iran too would leave the agreement shortly so the country's case could be referred to the Security Council and made subject to Chapter VII of the UN Charter – which authorizes the use of force.
With that scenario in mind, the US planned to persuade all world countries to bring the Islamic Republic under sanctions, the president said.
Rouhani also assured Iranians that the government was able to handle the economic pressure the country would face with the return of the US sanctions.
His remarks came a day after traders massed outside Parliament to protest at a sharp fall in the value of the national currency. The rial dropped to 90,000 to the dollar on the country's black market, despite government attempts to control the currency rate.
On Monday, police patrolled the bazaar following clashes with protesters angered by the rial's collapse, which is disrupting business by driving up the cost of imports.
Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday that parts of Tehran's Grand Bazaar were on strike for a second day, as protesters rallied in surrounding streets.
ISNA news agency wrote Tuesday that authorities detained many of rioters.
Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the "main provocateurs" who planned the protest and threatened shopkeepers to close their stores were arrested. He did not elaborate on the number of people detained.
Defending his economic record, Rouhani said the government’s income had not been affected in recent months, and the fall in the rial was the result of "foreign media propaganda".
"Even in the worst case, I promise that the basic needs of Iranians will be provided. We have enough sugar, wheat, and cooking oil. We have enough foreign currency to inject into the market," Rouhani said.
At the end of last year, similar economic protests roiled Iran. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 arrested.
Iran has announced a list of 15 demands for improving relations with the United States, including a US return to the 2015 nuclear accord, in response to a similar list of demands made by Washington last month.
In May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a wholesale change in Iran's military and regional policies, threatening the "strongest sanctions in history" if it refused.
Press TV, AP and Reuters contributed to this story.