By: Erin Cunningham, The Washington Post
Iran’s military forces staged war exercises and officials vowed to resist U.S. pressure Monday as the Trump administration reimposed harsh economic sanctions as part of a campaign to isolate the government in Tehran.
The sanctions reintroduce some of the most crippling restrictions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors and seek to penalize even non-U. S. entities that do business with Iran.
“We have to make Americans understand that they cannot talk to the great Iranian nation with the language of pressure and sanctions,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a meeting with economists Monday. His comments were broadcast live on Iranian state TV.
“They have to be punished,” Rouhani said, according to a transcript of the remarks posted to the president's website. “What the Americans are doing today is putting pressure merely on the people.”
Rouhani said that Iran would continue to sell oil on the global market, despite dwindling sales in the runup to the sanctions being reimposed.
The United States had lifted those restrictions as part of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, under which Iran agreed to curb its atomic energy program in exchange for broader sanctions relief.
Iran complied with the terms of the nuclear deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog tasked with monitoring the country's nuclear activity.
The Trump administration withdrew from the pact in May, saying the agreement was too limited in scope. The United States wants Iran to halt its ballistic missile program and stop support for regional proxies in places such as Syria and Iraq.
Iran experts warn, however, that sanctions are unlikely to alter Iranian influence or activities in the region.
“The Trump administration’s aggressive policy is likelier to spur Iran's regional activism than to curb it,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, a nonprofit focused on conflict research, said in a report Friday.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Monday said that the Trump administration is “addicted to imposing sanctions.”
“America's economic pressure on Iran is futile and part of its psychological war against Tehran,” spokesman Bahram Qasemi said at a weekly news conference, the Reuters news agency reported.
Also Monday, Iran's military and its powerful Revolutionary Guard staged joint war drills in the northern and western parts of the country, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said. The exercises include air defense systems and antiaircraft batteries.