TEHRAN — Iranian president Hassan Rouhani denounced “economic terrorism” and stated that the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign through sanctions will not change anything in the Iranian regime.
Rouhani reiterated that if President Trump wants to start negotiations with Tehran, he must lift all sanctions against his country “before everything else.”
Rouhani made the comments during a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in which he stated that the U.S. sanctions on his country are an act of “economic terrorism.”
Rouhani also said the Trump administration is “mistaken” to think that its “maximum pressure” campaign could bring about regime change in the country.
Tensions have escalated since Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers last year and imposed new, harsher sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors.
Last week, the U.S. administration also announced financial sanctions on Zarif, after Trump last month imposed similar measures on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The sanctions are seen as part of a U.S. pressure campaign on Iran.
Iran seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, state television reported on Sunday. This was the third time Tehran has reported detaining a tanker in the last month since the U.S. added sanctions.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps detained the tanker on Wednesday, along with the seven members of the ship’s foreign crew, according to official Iranian news agencies, which cited a naval commander. Iran said the tanker was “smuggling” fuel to some Arab states.
The oil tanker was an Iraqi ship, the official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The Trump administration has tried to force Iran into submission by suffocating its oil sales, the cornerstone of the country’s economy.
Iran has responded by lashing out at the West through the recent tanker seizures, raising fears that any miscalculation and eye-for-an-eye responses would escalate into war.