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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Iran's president says his country will 'stand up to' the US

Hassan Rouhani's remarks came a day after the Trump administration announced new, non-nuclear sanctions on Iranians 

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran on July 19, 2017 that his government will promptly respond to new sanctions imposed on it by the US with reciprocal measures. Iranian presidential website/EPA
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran on July 19, 2017 that his government will promptly respond to new sanctions imposed on it by the US with reciprocal measures. Iranian presidential website/EPA

Iran's president said on Wednesday that his country will stand up to the United States and "respond appropriately" to new sanctions from Washington.

Hassan Rouhani's comments came a day after the US and Iran traded tit-for-tat sanctions over the Islamic republic's ballistic missile programme.

The Trump administration announced new, non-nuclear sanctions on Iranians while at the same time warning Tehran that it would face consequences for breaching "the spirit" of the nuclear deal with world powers.

The new sanctions — perceived as the latest attempt to clamp down on Iran's military financing — target 18 Iranian individuals and groups, hours after the White House admitted Tehran was sticking to the 2015 agreement.

They range from an Iranian-based company accused of aiding the country's drone programme to a Turkey-based provider of naval equipment and a China-based network that helped secure electronics for Tehran.

Iran hit back with its own sanctions against "American people and entities that have acted against the Iranian people and other Muslim peoples of the region".

In April and May, Tehran imposed reciprocal sanctions on dozens of American companies and individuals, alleging they support terrorism and repression against people in the region such as the Palestinians.

Mr Rouhani said Washington was pushing Iran to "abandon its commitments" and that the US was "worried over improved economic relations between Iran and Asia and Europe".

But he said Iran remained committed to its nuclear deal with world powers.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will always stick to its international commitments," he said at a weekly cabinet meeting that was broadcast on state TV.

But if the US wants "to press forward with new sanctions under any pretext … Iran will respond appropriately", he said.

"We will not forgive violations by the Americans and we will stand against them", he said without elaborating.

Mr Rouhani, a 68-year-old cleric and political moderate who secured a resounding re-election over a hardline opponent in May, has been increasingly outspoken against the US, calling relations with Washington "a curvy road" even as he touted the 2015 nuclear accord Iran secured with world powers.

On Wednesday, he accused Washington of duplicity, saying that "on one hand they send official reports to Congress verifying that Iran has been completely loyal to the nuclear deal".

"On other hand they seek new sanctions under various excuses against logic [and] the spirit and text" of the accord, he said.The foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned the latest US sanctions, calling them "mean and pointless".

The Iranian parliament also voted to streamline a bill that would increase funding for the country's missile programme and Revolutionary Guards in response to Washington's "adventurism" in the region.

An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted to prioritise the motion that would see an additional US$260 million (Dh955m) allocated to developing the missile programme and the same amount to the elite Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing, the Quds Force.

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