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Iranian minister claims ‘US addiction to sanctions is out of control’

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s foreign minister has charged that the latest round of U.S. sanctions is violating the human rights of Iranians and that “the U.S. addiction to sanctions is out of control.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter late on October 17 that sanctions on two Iranian banks and a handful of companies allegedly linked to Iran’s Basij militia violated orders from the International Court of Justice not to impede humanitarian trade with Iran.

“Utter disregard for rule of law & human rights of an entire people,” Zarif said, calling Washington an “outlaw regime,” whose “‘hostility toward Iranians [is] heightened by addiction to sanctions.”

Zarif said that one of the banks targeted by the sanctions played a vital role importing food and medicine, and he seemed to suggest it was not close to the Basij militia, which is a volunteer force that polices domestic restrictions imposed by Iran’s religious leaders.

The “U.S. addiction to sanctions is out of control,” Zarif said.

Zarif’s comments came after his ministry’s spokesman called the latest sanctions an “insult” to the international order that stemmed from “blind vindictiveness” against the Iranian nation.

The U.S. Treasury on October 16 slapped sanctions on a network of some 20 Iranian corporations and financial institutions with alleged links to the militia.

The Treasury said the banking network provided financial support to a paramilitary force that it claims recruits and trains child soldiers for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The sanctioned entities include Mobarakeh Steel Co., the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa region, which told investors in a statement that the U.S. restrictive measure will not disrupt its “production, financial activities, and exports.”

The new sanctions are part of a broader U.S. economic campaign to pressure Iran over what President Donald Trump’s administration describes as its “malign” role in the Middle East, including support for militant groups.

Washington in May withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and in August started reimposing sanctions on the Iranian economy that were lifted under the deal in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

A new round of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector are set to go into effect on November 5.

The U.S. moves have sent Iran’s economy into a downward spiral, with the national currency, the rial, hitting record lows.