TEHRAN Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed new sanctions the United States imposed on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as “outrageous and idiotic” and described the White House as “mentally retarded”.
In a speech broadcast live on Iranian state television on Tuesday, Rouhani said sanctions against Khamenei would fail because he had no assets abroad and described the latest round of measures as a sign of US desperation.
“The White House actions mean it is mentally retarded,” Rouhani said, adding that Tehran’s “strategic patience” should not be mistaken for fear.
Iranian officials have used this insult in the past about US President Donald Trump, but it was a departure from Rouhani’s own comparatively measured tone.
Trump targeted Khamenei and other top Iranian officials with sanctions on Monday, in a bid to increase pressure on Iran after it downed an unmanned US drone last week.
The targets of the new sanctions include senior military figures in Iran, whose access to any financial assets under US jurisdiction will now be blocked.
Washington also said it will impose sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, this week. The moves came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that Washington was prepared to enter talks with Iran “with no preconditions”.
Rouhani dismissed Pompeo’s offer, saying: “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks.” He went on to call the new US sanctions “outrageous and idiotic”.
‘All options on table’
The crisis gripping the Middle East stems from Trump’s decision last year to abandon an international accord between Iran and six world powers that offered Tehran relief from global sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
After exiting the 2015 deal, Trump reimposed and extended sanctions on Iran, saying the “maximum pressure” campaign was aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate a new deal that also addressed its ballistic missiles programme and support for regional armed groups.
But Iran says there is no point negotiating with Washington when it has abandoned a deal that was already reached. And on Tuesday, the country’s foreign ministry said the new US sanctions permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy [Zarif] is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”
A year after the US exit, Iran said it would would reduce compliance with some elements of the nuclear agreement, and gave Europe, China and Russia a two-month ultimatum to help Iran circumvent US sanctions and sell its oil.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said on Tuesday Iran will “resolutely” abandon more commitments under the nuclear deal at the end of that deadline.
“As of July 7, Iran will forcefully take the second step of reducing its commitments” to the nuclear deal, Shamkhani was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
This was so “countries who interpreted Iran’s ‘patience’ with weakness and inaction realise that Iran’s answer to the American drone’s violation of its airspace will be no different than its reaction to devious political efforts to limit Iranian people’s absolute rights,” he added.
Shamkhani slammed Europe’s “political insolence” for expecting Iran to continue its commitments without them fulfilling their end of the deal and said it showed a “lack of will” to face the US.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Israel, said that Trump was open to negotiations and “all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door”.
Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Bolton said he believes pressure imposed on Iran through sanctions will lead it to the negotiating table. “They’ll either get the point or … we will simply enhance the maximum pressure campaign further”.
“It will, I think, be the combination of sanctions and other pressure that does bring Iran to the table,” the long time Iran hawk said.
However, he added that “all options remain on the table” if Iran exceeds the uraniumenrichment limit under the nuclear deal. Tehran had previously warned it would pass the 300kg stockpile limit this week.
US sanctions on Khamenei & Zarif close path of diplomacy Iran
The US has destroyed the glimmering chance for negotiations and undermined world peace and security by targeting the Iranian leadership with a new wave of sanctions, Tehran has said.
By slapping useless sanctions on Irans top officials, Washington has precipitated the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy, the spokesperson for the Islamic Republics Foreign Ministry, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, said on Tuesday.
Trumps desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.
His words were echoed by Irans envoy to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, who saidthere is no way that Iran and the US can start a dialogue while Washington is applying economic pressure and sanctions against the country.
On Monday, the US announced plans to blacklist Irans Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. President Trump explained that the new sanctions are a response to Iran shooting down a US drone last week, among other things. He also said that he had considered striking several targets on Iranian soil, but called off the attack.
Officials in Tehran blasted the new batch of restrictions imposed by the US. Zarif said that hardliners in the White House despise diplomacy and thirst for war.
The longstanding conflict between Tehran and Washington escalated last year after the US unilaterally abandoned the 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program, re-imposing sanctions on Iran. In May, Iran said that it would partially suspend its obligations under the deal, unless the EU, another signatory to the agreement, negotiates the lifting of the US sanctions.