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Rohani says Iran-US tensions at ‘a maximum’

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (right) during the trilateral meeting of the heads of states, guarantors of the Astana process for facilitating the Syrian peace settlement on Feb. 14, 2019. (Kremlin/Released)

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

Tensions between Tehran and Washington are at “a maximum” rarely seen in the decades-long antagonistic relations between the two countries, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on February 20.

Animosity between the United States and Tehran — bitter foes since Iran’s 1979 revolution — has escalated since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in May from a landmark 2015 international nuclear agreement with Tehran and reimposed sanctions lifted under the deal.

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 struggle between Iran and America is currently at a maximum. America has employed all its power against us,” state broadcaster IRIB quoted Rohani as saying during a cabinet meeting.

The Iranian president asserted that U.S. economic sanctions amounted to “economic terrorism,” arguing that “when…they threaten companies with punitive measures for doing business with a country, they’re in fact creating fear in the banking and commercial sector.”

Rohani also said that a conference on the Middle East focusing on Iran organized by the United States in the Polish capital Warsaw last week did not achieve its goals.

Senior officials from 60 nations gathered at the conference, where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on Washington’s European allies to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, saying that Iran was the “greatest threat to peace and security” in the Middle East.

However, foreign ministers from major European powers still committed to the 2015 nuclear deal did not attend the Warsaw conference, and neither did Russia and China, who are also signatories of the agreement under which Tehran pledged to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Rohani claimed that attendance at the conference reflected “another failure of…U.S. regional policies.”