Iran's Rouhani says U.S. sanctions are 'terrorist act'

Jason Rezaian former Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post who was imprisoned by Iranian authorities in 2014 poses for a portrait at the Washington Post

Jason Rezaian former Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post who was imprisoned by Iranian authorities in 2014 poses for a portrait at the Washington Post

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that tensions between Tehran and Washington were at "a maximum" rarely seen in the decades-long contentious relations of the two countries. "America has employed all its power against us", Rouhani was quoted as saying in a cabinet meeting by the state broadcaster IRIB.

Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union have been trying to preserve the 2015 deal meant to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in exchange for sanctions relief after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States a year ago. Chinese companies have already shown a willingness to defer to USA sanctions pressure, meaning that unless alternative financing schemes are set up, they'd likely pass on doing business with Iran.

The Trump administration maintains that the 2015 nuclear deal, celebrated by European powers and the previous United States administration of former president Barack Obama, was insufficient because it did not include measures to curb the Iranian regime's ambitions in the region and its ballistic missile program.

Senior officials from 60 nations gathered in Warsaw where the United States hoped to ratchet up pressure against Iran, but foreign ministers from major European powers still committed to the nuclear deal did not attend.

"First a dismembered journalist; now illicit sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia fully expose #USHypocrisy", Zarif added, referring to the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents, and the new report by a U.S. congressional committee on the planned sale.

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In December previous year, Senators Edward Markey and Jeff Merkley said in a letter that Donald Trump's administration must immediately suspend any nuclear agreements with Saudi Arabia until Riyadh answers questions surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. His body has not been found.

Trump heavily criticized and eventually canceled the Iran nuclear deal (known as the JCPOA) previous year.

US Democratic lawmakers alleged in a report released Tuesday that a proposed transfer of US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia was being fast-tracked around a mandatory approval process. But France has said it is ready to reimpose sanctions on Iran if no progress is made in talks over its ballistic missile program.

"We have inaugurated huge national projects in this situation", Rouhani said at the inauguration, adding that this comes despite efforts by the US, Israel, and their allies to increase pressure on Iran.

Asked about the possibility of a military conflict between Iran and Israel, the Iranian diplomat said he does not see that coming, adding, "But we can not exclude the possibility".

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