Iran's Rouhani: US sanctions are 'economic terrorism'
Jim WATSON (AFP/Archives)
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said US sanctions were "economic terrorism", as he sought to foster a united front from visiting regional officials on Saturday.
Addressing parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, Rouhani said they had all suffered economic pressure from the US.
"We are facing an all-out assault which is not only threatening our independence and identity but also is bent on breaking our longstanding ties," he said.
Washington has reimposed an oil embargo and other damaging sanctions on Iran since withdrawing in May from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
"America's unjust and illegal sanctions against the honourable nation of Iran have targeted our nation in a clear instance of terrorism," Rouhani said.
"Economic terrorism is designed to create panic in the economy of a country and fear in other countries in order to prevent investment."
The conference in Tehran was a second annual meeting of parliament speakers focused on terrorism and regional cooperation. The first was held last December in Islamabad.
Most participating countries have faced harsh sanctions and other economic pressure as part of the Trump administration's use of trade as a diplomatic weapon.
A brief truce in Trump's trade war with China was again in doubt this week after the arrest of Chinese telecom giant Huawei's chief financial officer, who was detained in Canada to face fraud charges in the US.
Washington has continued to pile fresh sanctions on Russia that began over its military intervention in Ukraine, while Turkey also faced penalties this year over the detention of an American pastor.
US weapons sales in Middle East 'unbelieveable'
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif delivered an indictment of the United States on Saturday for its profuse sale of weapons in the Middle East, suggesting it could contribute to further conflict in the region.
“The level of arms sales by the Americans is unbelievable and much beyond regional needs, and this points to the very dangerous policies followed by the Americans,” said Zarif.
Saudi Arabia is the United States top customer when it comes to weapons purchases, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all US weapon sales between 2013 and 2017, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Nearly half of all US weapons transfers have gone to the Middle East in the previous fifty years, the report reveals, pointing to a trend that began in the 1990's.
The US supplies some 100 countries with arms, amounting to over one-third of all global exports and nearly 60 percent higher than Russian arms sales. France, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom are the other top global arms dealers.
Israel is also a major defense trade partner of the United States and has meanwhile conducted a military campaign against Iran to prevent the transfer of arms to Hezbollah largely via Syria.
Recently the IDF accused Iran of providing the funding and support for Hezbollah’s tunnel program, which was revealed this week.
'We are all punished'
Trump has also cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, accusing it of failing to crack down on militancy.
"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," Rouhani 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."
Rouhani warned Europe -- which has strongly objected to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal -- that much is at stake in its efforts to bypass US sanctions and maintain trade with Iran.
"They should know that by sanctioning Iran, they would harm our ability to fight drugs and terrorism," Rouhani said, referring to Iran's efforts to combat smuggling, particularly from Afghanistan.
The European Union is working on a payment system, known as the "special purpose vehicle", to keep money flowing into Iran, but has struggled to find a host since many countries fear repercussions from the Trump administration.
AFP contributed to this report.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in
Sanctions for EU if they go around sanctions on iran. No german cars on US streets!!
My heart bleeds