This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani told Iranians in a televised speech on September 26 to direct their anger over the impact of sanctions at Washington.
Rohani accused the United States of “savagery” for imposing the sanctions, including new ones announced this week.
“With their illegal and inhuman sanctions, and terrorist actions, the Americans have inflicted $150 billion of damage on the people of Iran,” Rohani said.
Rohani said the sanctions had prevented the purchase of medicines and food. Such humanitarian supplies are theoretically exempt from U.S. sanctions, but many companies fear breaking the rules and avoid transactions with Tehran.
“We haven’t seen such an extent of savagery,” Rohani said. “The correct address for all crimes and pressure against the dear Iranian people is Washington, D.C., the White House.”
A new round of sanctions announced on September 21 applies to people and entities involved in Iran’s atomic activities or its missile and conventional weapons programs.
They are part of an offensive by the Trump administration that rests in part on a “snapback” clause from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers that the United States abandoned two years ago.
Washington added more sanctions on September 24 when it blacklisted judges and entities over violations of human rights, including a judge it said was involved in the case of an Iranian wrestler sentenced to death.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal.
Iran has breached the central limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has accused it of obfuscating and making misleading statements about past nuclear activities. Iran has insisted it is not pursuing nuclear weapons.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on September 21 that Washington is determined to keep up its “maximum pressure” effort “until Iran is willing to conclude a comprehensive negotiation that addresses the regime’s malign behavior.”
He added that the United States is “always open to diplomacy with Iran, but Iran must respond with diplomacy, not with more violence, bloodshed, and nuclear extortion. Until then, maximum pressure will continue.”
In his televised speech, Rohani reserved his harshest criticism for Pompeo, saying that while he presents himself as the minister of foreign affairs, he is in reality “the minister of crimes.”