Rouhani also dubbed the recent White House sanctions "outrageous and idiotic.”
Rabat – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has responded disparagingly to new sanctions imposed on Iranian officials by US President Donald Trump.
The new sanctions come partly as a response to a US drone being shot down last week. Trump said the measures will deny Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as his office, and those closely affiliated with him, access to key US financial resources and support.
The US Treasury said it was also imposing sanctions on eight senior commanders of the IRGC’s navy, air force, and ground forces, including the head of an air force unit that the US said ordered the US drone to be shot down.
“The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will also be targeted later this week, according to the US treasury.
President Hassan Rouhani condemns sanctions, calls White House “retarded”
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not take kindly to the sanctions, to say the least. In a speech broadcast live on Iranian state television on Tuesday, he called the sanctions “useless” as Khamenei has no assets abroad.
“They said they want to confiscate the leader’s property. The leader owns a Hoseyniyyeh [prayer venue] and a simple house. Our leaders are not like the leaders of other countries who have billions of money on foreign accounts that you could appropriate,” Rouhani said of the sanctions.
Rouhani said “the White House actions show it is mentally retarded,” calling them “outrageous and idiotic.” He also accused the US of lying about wanting to resume talks between the two countries.
“You say you really want to hold talks with us, but at the same time you’re saying that you want to boycott and sanction our foreign minister, so you’re lying,” he said.
Tensions between Iran and the US higher than ever before
Donald Trump explained the sanctions placed on Iranian officials as a response to “aggressive behavior from Iran.” Just last week, Iran shot down a US surveillance drone, claiming that it had violated Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. However, the US insisted the drone was flying over international waters.
In response to the drone being shot down, Trump approved air strikes on Iran but called them off just minutes before the military action was meant to take place, on the morning of Friday, June 21.
US planes and ships were already in position when Trump called off the attack, according to the White House. Trump’s motivation behind calling off the attack, or whether it will be carried out at a later date, remains unknown.
Iran shooting down the drone and Trump’s planned military action was just the most recent events in tensions that have been escalating for months. In May, things escalated further when Washington ordered all countries halt imports of Iranian oil.
In response the US’ call for a boycott, Iran pulled out its international nuclear agreements on May 8, as well as giving Europe, China and Russia a two-month ultimatum to help Iran circumvent US sanctions and sell its oil or it would abandon two more commitments.
Trump also accused Iran of being behind two sets of explosions that damaged six oil tankers in the Gulf region. Iran has denied the allegations. The US, in turn, announced that it is building a coalition with unnamed allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes.