News ID: 254852
Published: 0242 GMT June 25, 2019

Rouhani: New US sanctions ‘idiotic’, prove talk offers hollow

Rouhani: New US sanctions ‘idiotic’, prove talk offers hollow

International Desk

Iran: Sanctions spell ‘permanent closure’ for diplomacy

UNSC calls for dialogue to ease escalation

Lavrov: Situation around Iran heading toward ‘bad scenario’

Iran vehemently responded Tuesday to new US sanctions, saying they showed the United States was "lying" about an offer of talks and marked the end of diplomacy with the Trump administration.

US President Donald Trump sanctioned Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and his associates as well as several top military chiefs on Monday.  Washington said it would also sanction Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in the week.

President Hassan Rouhani called the sanctions against Ayatollah Khamenei “outrageous and idiotic,” and described the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation.”

"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 speech broadcast live on TV.

“The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” Rouhani added.

Rouhani also mocked the logic of sanctioning the Leader, who has few assets and no plans to visit the US.

“Iran’s Leader is not like those of other countries, who have billions in an account abroad so you can sanction it, seize it or block it,” said Rouhani. “To sanction him for what? Not to travel to America? That's funny.”

Rouhani noted that there had been chances for talks between the two sides.

Zarif met former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson several times before Washington unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

"You do not seek to negotiate. If you did, we could have," Rouhani said.

Zarif was a key architect of the deal under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Both Zarif and Rouhani have accused Washington of waging an "economic war" on Iran since pulling out of the accord.

Tensions between them have been escalating since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal. Trump has since moved to choke Iran's economy, blacklisted Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps as a "terrorist organization" and nearly launched a military strike in retaliation to Iran downing a US spy drone.

Zarif and other officials said the drone had violated Iranian airspace, a claim the US denies. 

Washington has also blamed Iran for mid-June attacks on two tankers in sensitive Persian Gulf waters, a claim Iran hotly refutes.

Rouhani pointed to the downing of the US drone and thanked “those who put [Iran’s] missile capabilities to use,” adding that “people are happy with the country’s defense power.”

Rouhani said Iran’s borders are “our red line,” stressing, “when an aircraft crosses our borders, it is, in fact, crossing our red lines, and we are entitled to defend ourselves.”

Trump has said he is ready to negotiate with Iran "with no preconditions" and that Iran could have a "phenomenal future."

"We do not ask for conflict," he said, adding that depending on Iran's response, sanctions could end tomorrow or "years from now."

From Israel, Trump’s hawkish national security adviser John Bolton said talks with the US were still possible and that the US is leaving an “open door” for Iran to walk through.

Bolton said Trump was open to real negotiations and “all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door.”

Only hours later, Bolton told a news conference that “all options remain on the table” if Iran goes over the limit for its low-enriched uranium stockpile as planned by Thursday.

Iran has threatened to further scale down some of its commitments under the deal unless the remaining international parties – the Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany – help it circumvent US sanctions, particularly through vital oil exports.

Bolton predicted that Washington’s pressure campaign against Tehran would lead it to enter negotiations.

“They’ll either get the point or ... we will simply enhance the maximum pressure campaign further,” Bolton told reporters. “It will be, I think, the combination of sanctions and other pressure that does bring Iran to the table.”

Jonathan Cohen, the US envoy at the United Nations, also said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations.


End of diplomacy

But Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said Tuesday that the new sanctions meant "permanent closure of the path to diplomacy.”

“The fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy mean the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy with the frustrated US administration,” Mousavi said.

“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security,” Mousavi said.

Mousavi’s statement echoed that of Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi who said any talks with the US are impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation.

“You cannot start a dialogue with somebody who is threatening you, who is intimidating you,” Takht-Ravanchi told reporters. “How can we start a dialogue with somebody whose primary occupation is to put more sanctions on Iran? The atmosphere of such a dialogue is not ready yet.”

The sanctions were announced as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in the Middle East with officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia about building a broad, global coalition that includes Asian and European countries to counter Iran. Pompeo is likely to face a tough sell in Europe and Asia, particularly from those nations still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal.


Call for dialogue

Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity, the UN Security Council issued a unanimous call for dialogue to address the standoff between the United States and Iran.

China on Tuesday urged "calm and restraint" as tensions grew.

"We believe that blindly applying maximum pressure will not help solve the problem," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing.

"Facts have proved that these measures have had the opposite effect and aggravated regional unrest," he added.

"Facts have proved that these measures have had the opposite effect and aggravated regional unrest," he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would use a meeting with Trump at the G20 summit in Japan to urge "a constructive solution with the aim of ensuring collective regional security."


Bad scenario

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the situation around Iran was developing toward a dangerous scenario after the US announced new sanctions.

"We are concerned about what is happening. Another round of sanctions, very personal sanctions, which … are alarming and sending a signal that the situation is unfolding under a very bad scenario," Lavrov said.

AFP, AP, Reuters, Press TV and TASS contributed to this story. 






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