Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday blasted the United States’ dual approach toward Iran, saying Washington is pressuring Tehran and at the same time calling for negotiations “every day.”
“From one side, they try to pressure the people of Iran. On the other side, they send us messages every day through various methods that we should come and negotiate together,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on national television.
He added, “[They say] we should negotiate here, we should negotiate there. We want to resolve the issues... Which one should we believe? Your messages, or your brutal acts? If you want the best for the Iranian people, why are you pressuring them?”
Tensions ramped up between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last month. US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector are scheduled to be reimposed in November.
Trump has said he would meet Iran’s president.
“Today, the government is on the frontlines. This is an economic, psychological and propaganda war,” said Rouhani on Saturday, pointing to the US and Israel as the Islamic Republic’s main enemies.
He added that American leaders were wrong if they thought pressure would make the Islamic Republic bend.
“You think if you put pressure on our people for two months, three months, four months, or a year, they would come to the streets with their hands up and say, ‘We have surrendered to America and the White House.’ This is your fault; this is your mistake,” he said.
He further evoked memories of the Iran-Iraq war to call for unity in the face of economic hardships and US pressure.
“We had sweet days and we had hard days during the Sacred Defense,” he said, using the official name for the war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988.
“But our nation never backed down. Now, too, our nation will not bow before the pressure of a new group in the White House.”
Iran’s economy has been battered in recent months with the national currency losing around 70 percent of its value against the dollar compared with a year ago.
Rouhani urged unity after weeks of pressure from political factions over his government’s handling of the economy.
“First of all, I want everyone – all parties, groups, factions, forces and bodies – to know that today is not a day for complaints; it is not a day for rivalry, or God forbid, for revenge. Today we are all on the battlefield,” he said.
“Disputes are before the war begins. When the war starts, we are all together,” Rouhani said, adding that the current US administration is in a dispute not only with Iran but also with Washington’s traditional allies.
“We cannot fight America, the left and the right at the same time. We cannot fight on three fronts,” Rouhani said.
The president also acknowledged the mounting economic pressure.
“We cannot back down from our goals because of temporary difficulties. Remember those [war] days; our heartaches brought us to eventual victories.”
Reuters, AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.