Rouhani: Iran will ‘proudly bypass’ US sanctions
President Hassan Rouhani said Monday Iran will break and “proudly bypass sanctions” by the United States that took effect on Monday targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors.
Speaking at a meeting with the directors and deputies of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, President Rouhani said, “We should break the sanctions very well, and we will do that.
“With the help of the people, and the unity that exists in our society, we have to make the Americans understand that they must not use the language of force, pressure, and threats to speak to the great Iranian nation. They must be punished once and for all.
“I announce that we will proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions because it’s against international regulations.”
The sanctions described by the US as “the toughest sanctions ever” come six months after US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to abandon the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. He announced in May that Washington would withdraw unilaterally from the landmark nuclear pact signed in 2015 between Tehran and major global powers.
The latest tranche of US sanctions aims to significantly cut Iran’s oil exports – which have already fallen by up to one million barrels a day since May – and cut off its banks from international finance.
The United States has given temporary exemptions to eight countries to continue buying oil in a bid to avoid disturbing their economies and global markets.
China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey – all top importers of Iranian oil – are among eight countries expected to be given waivers.
President Rouhani said US officials had in fact conceded defeat.
“They (the Americans) saw that they couldn’t replace [Iranian oil on the market]; and even assuming they did not concede defeat and did not grant waivers to countries, we would still be able to sell our oil [because] we have adequate capabilities to do that,” the Iranian president said.
“America wanted to cut to zero Iran’s oil sales ... but we will continue to sell our oil ... to break sanctions,” Rouhani told economists at a meeting broadcast live on state television.
Trump’s administration says it wants a new deal with Iran that curbs its activities around the Middle East and missile program – demands that have been flatly rejected by Tehran.
Despite the US withdrawal, Iran has stayed in the deal but has stressed that the other parties to the agreement have to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout. Europe has been taking a range of measures to meet the Iranian demand for practical guarantees.
President Rouhani said Europe, too, was angry at US policies.
“Today, what the Americans are doing is merely pressure [ordinary] people, and no one else. It’s pressure [that is being put] on [the Iranian] people, other nations, other [foreign] businesses, and other governments,” he said. “Today, we are not the only ones who are angry at US policies; even European businesses and governments are angered by US policies, too.”
‘Europeans want Trump gone’
Rouhani also said he believed that America had never before seen as lawless an administration as that of Trump’s.
He said all US administrations had violated international law, but “these (current officials) score on top on the lawlessness rankings.”
“I don’t recall a group assuming power at the White House that was racist as these,” the Iranian president said.
“This is not [just] us who wish for the life of this incumbent administration in the US to become shorter and shorter; their (the Americans’) own European allies have told me in [private] meetings that that is one of their wishes,” Rouhani said.
‘Dialogue needs no intermediary’
Rouhani said when he was in New York for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in September, “the leaders of four major countries” sought to broker a meeting between him and the US president. He did not name those leaders.
“Constantly they are sending us messages saying, ‘Let’s sit and negotiate.’ Negotiations for what?” said Rouhani.
He said, however, that there was no need for mediation.
“Honor your obligations first! We will speak then,” Rouhani said, addressing American officials. “We have no problem with talking. If our interlocutor honors its word and promises, what will be wrong with talking?”
He noted that the unilateral withdrawal from the Iran deal has isolated the US.
“Just look at how many countries support the US move and how many don’t,” he said. “The fact America insists on something and the entire European Union resists that same thing is nothing simple. That means victory for [our] diplomacy and foreign policy.”
Earlier, President Rouhani’s chief of staff announced that Trump had eight times requested a meeting with the Iranian president while he was in New York but had been rejected all eight times.
‘Iran in economic war’
President Rouhani also said that the Islamic Republic was engaged in “an economic war” with the US.
“We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power. I don’t think that in the history of America, someone has entered the White House who is so against law and international conventions,” he added.
“We have to stand and fight, and win,” he said. “God will help us win.”
The Iranian president also said the current economic problems faced by Iran will not continue.
“We will relaunch economic growth. No one should think the trend we have been seeing in the past several months will continue like that. This trend will be stopped.
“Today the enemy (the United States) is targeting our economy ... the main target of sanctions is our people.”
Trump’s announcement in May helped fuel a run on Iran’s currency that has seen the rial lose more than two-thirds of its value, driving up prices.
Rouhani’s central strategy since taking power in 2013 was to boost the economy by rebuilding ties with the world and attracting billions of dollars in foreign investment.
That now looks in tatters, despite the other parties to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – vehemently opposing the US move and promising to keep trade going.
Private companies and banks in those countries are unwilling to make enemies of the US Treasury and most international firms that set up in Iran after the 2015 deal have been forced to leave, including France’s Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany’s Siemens.
“Today, it’s not just us who are angry with America’s policies. Even European companies are angry with America’s policies,” said Rouhani.
Press TV, AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.