TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani yesterday condemned a new round of American sanctions linked to his country’s nuclear activities, saying mistrust had been “further deepened” by the fresh measures.
His remarks followed the US Treasury’s announcement of penalties targeting dozens of Iranian individuals and entities, including shipping and oil companies, banks and airlines.
The latest sanctions — which Washington said were levelled because of support for terrorism and existing restrictions being skirted — come despite Iran’s ongoing talks with the West to end its decade-long nuclear dispute.
“This is not compatible with the atmosphere of the negotiations,” Rowhani said of the latest US action.
“It goes against confidence building measures. Mistrust has further deepened,” he told reporters in Tehran, defending Iran’s attempts to circumvent sanctions on its oil sector, banks and other industries.
“Some sanctions like those against drugs or food products are crimes against humanity. We fight and go around these sanctions and we are proud of that,” Rowhani added.
A wide array of sanctions, most of them financial, are considered to have wrecked Iran’s economy in recent years but advocates say such tough action brought the Islamic republic back to the negotiating table.
Despite his criticism yesterday, Rowhani pledged that discussions with the P5+1 powers (Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany) would continue.
“We hope to achieve a result within the time limit if the other party acts with goodwill,” he said, noting that three or four difficult questions remain ahead of a November 24 deadline.
The biggest disagreement in the talks is believed to concern the amount of uranium enrichment that Iran would be allowed to carry out under a comprehensive agreement with the West.
The talks are scheduled to resume next month on the sidelines of the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, though Rowhani declined to confirm that he would personally attend.
Tehran contends that its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy production reasons and denies the West’s allegations that it has sought to develop an atomic bomb.
Earlier yesterday, other senior Iranian officials hit out at the US Treasury action.
“The duplicity of the Americans is totally unacceptable,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi, a key member of the team that for almost one year has been talking to the West about a nuclear settlement.
“You cannot on the one hand say that you are negotiating with goodwill and then at the same time use such means,” he added.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the new sanctions were contrary to US commitments under an interim deal.