EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday new US sanctions targeting the country's leadership have no practical impact, while adding that Washington's plan to impose sanctions on Iran's chief diplomat shows it is "lying" about an offer to negotiate.
US President Donald Trump targeted Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and other top Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, with sanctions on Monday, taking a dramatic, unprecedented step to increase pressure on Iran after Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone, Reuters reported.
With tensions running high between the two countries, Trump signed an executive order imposing the sanctions, which US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said would lock billions of dollars more in Iranian assets.
Trump told reporters the sanctions were in part a response to last week's downinng of a US drone by Iran, but would have happened anyway, Financial Tribune reported.
He added that the sanctions "will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support".
Rouhani described the US moves as "outrageous" and "ridiculous", saying that sanctions against the Leader would have no practical impact because he has no assets abroad, the presidential website reported.
"Today, the US administration is in a state of grave confusion. They have become desperate because none of their measures has produced the intended results," he told a gathering of Health Ministry officials.
The president also said Washington's decision to impose sanctions on Zarif, who led Iran's nuclear negotiations with world powers, is proof that the Americans are not sincere in their offer of dialogue.
"You call for negotiations. If you are telling the truth, why are you simultaneously seeking to sanction our foreign minister? It is obvious that you are lying."
Rouhani also said that the US left the negotiating table, noting that Zarif had on several occasions even met with Trump's former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, before Washington unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
On Tuesday, Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, repeated earlier offers to hold talks, “as long as Iran is willing to go beyond the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers”.
The downing of the US drone—which Iran says was over its airspace and the United States claims was in international skies—was the culmination of weeks of rising tensions that had begun to take on a military dimension.
Rouhani said Iran's reaction to the incursion showed that the country's "strategic patience" does not mean it is "afraid" of America.
Iran's foreign minister, in a tweet on Monday, said hawkish politicians close to Trump are thirsty for war rather than diplomacy.
In addition, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Twitter, "Imposing useless sanctions on Iran's Leader and the commander of Iran's diplomacy is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy with the desperate US administration," IRNA reported on Tuesday.
"Trump's administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security," Mousavi concluded.