This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has denounced U.S. sanctions as “economic terrorism,” and predicted if they succeed and Iran is weakened, the West will be flooded by illegal drugs.
Rohani made the remark in Tehran on December 8 at a six-nation conference on fighting terrorism. It is being attended by parliament speakers from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, China, and Russia.
In remarks broadcast by state TV, Rohani said a weakened Iran would be less able to fight drug trafficking.
Iran lies on a major drug route between Afghanistan and Europe and the Persian Gulf states.
Iran’s economy is reeling after Washington reimposed sanctions lifted under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the international Iranian nuclear deal in May.
Trump said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.
The State Department’s latest annual survey on global terrorism listed Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
“America’s unjust and illegal sanctions against the honorable nation of Iran have targeted our nation in a clear instance of terrorism,” Rohani said.
Rohani attempted to draw parallels with the sanctions and other pressure faced by the countries attending the conference.
“When they put pressure on China’s trade, we are all harmed…. By punishing Turkey, we are all punished. Any time they threaten Russia, we too consider our security to be endangered,” he said.
“When they impose sanctions on Iran, they deprive all of us of the benefits of international trade, energy security, and sustainable development. And in fact, they impose sanctions on everyone. We are here to say that we don’t intend to tolerate such insolence.”
The conference in Tehran was the second regional meeting on terrorism — the first was held last December in Islamabad.
The survey on global terrorism, released by the State Department on September 19, said Iran and its proxies were responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in the region.
“Designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2017, including support for Lebanese Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East,” the report said.