(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Iran’s Rouhani Decries US Policy of Maximum Pressure
“We will bring the US to its knees,” said Rouhani two days ahead of US decision to end waivers for country’s buying Iranian oil goes into effect.
Rouhani’s bellicose words followed an even tougher speech delivered by Qassem Soleimani, who commands the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.
“Enemies are looking to harm us through coercion, sanctions and threatening the country’s stability,” Soleimani said, while stressing that the US is going full-throttle in its attempt to trigger regime change in Tehran.
Last week, Washington announced it will no longer exempt eight countries that mainly import oil from Iran from economic sanctions. The move is set to place maximum pressure on Tehran so that it returns to negotiations and complies with 12 demands which include ending its support for regional militias, as well as freezing its development of ballistic missiles.
Since then, Rouhani and Iran’s top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have signaled willingness to reopen negotiation channels.
But Soleimani blasted any talks under the pressure of economic sanctions as “degrading, capitulation and surrender.”
The country’s ultra-conservative Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, for his part, deemed returning to the roundtable a “strategic blunder.”
“America’s decision that Iranian oil exports should reach zero is wrong and incorrect, and we will not allow this decision to be implemented,” Rouhani said.
“In the coming months, the Americans themselves will see that we will continue our oil exports,” Rouhani said, taking pride in Tehran having “six methods” to circumvent US sanctions.
Rouhani and Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to halt Iranian oil exports.
The Strait of Hormuz links the crude-producing countries of the Middle East and markets in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond, and a third of the world’s sea-transported oil passes through it every day.
Iran has also threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal itself if European powers do not succeed in ensuring Tehran’s economic benefits.
European countries have said they would help companies keep their operations with Iran as long as they are committed to the deal, but Tehran has criticized what it sees as a slow pace of progress in the implementation of a payment mechanism for trade settlement between Iran and Europe.