Iranian Reaction to U.S. Sanctions

In the runup to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of disregarding its international obligations. “The US is, in effect, threatening states who seek to abide by [U.N.] resolution 2231 with punitive measures,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Financial Times. On November 5, the United States will reimpose sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in May 2018. 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argued that, although sanctions will negatively impact Iran’s economy, “they will not change policy.” He said told CBS News that the United States “has an addiction to sanctions.” The following are excerpted remarks by Iranian officials. 


President Hassan Rouhani

In brief, the US administration’s policies of unilateralism, racial discrimination, Islamophobia, and the undermining of important international treaties, including the Paris Climate Accord, are fundamentally incompatible with multilateralism and other socio-political norms valued by Europe. 

There is another critical matter aggravating transatlantic relations: the Iran nuclear deal. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it was the product of two years of intensive negotiations between Iran and six other countries, including three from Europe.

As an annex to UN Security Council Resolution 2231, this agreement enjoys the approval of the overwhelming majority of the international community and, as part and parcel of international law, imposes certain obligations on all the members of the UN. 

Unfortunately, the US, through raising unfounded claims and in complete disregard for its international obligations, has abandoned the nuclear agreement and imposed extraterritorial and unilateral sanctions on Iran and, by extension, other countries. 

The US is, in effect, threatening states who seek to abide by resolution 2231 with punitive measures. This constitutes a mockery of international decisions and the blackmailing of responsible parties who seek to uphold them.

—Nov. 1, 2018, in an op-ed in the Financial Times

“The new U.S. plot against Iran will definitely fail and they are stepping back; first, they said they would reduce Iran’s oil export to zero but they then said that Iran’s oil export can’t be reduced to zero in November, and then they said that Iran’s oil can’t be reduced to zero and we want to simply reduce Iran’s oil export.”

“You can neither stop Iran’s oil export, nor reduce it to the amount you want; you want to irritate the Iranian nation; of course, the people of Iran are mad at the U.S. and its crimes, not at their own government.”

“We tell our business partners that this U.S. pressure is transitory and our relations with you are permanent. The Americans will shout a few days, but they will go. They cannot decide for the region and the great nations.”

—Oct. 31, 2018, during a cabinet session


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

“Sanctions will have an economic impact, but they will not change policy. The United States must learn that.”

“The U.S. has an addiction to sanctions and they believe that the sanctions are the panacea that resolve all the problems. They don't. They in fact hurt people and we have an obligation as a government to minimize the impact on the people. But sanctions never change policy.”

“It is the first time that the Europeans are not only making statements against U.S., policy but are developing a mechanism to avoid these sanctions and to compensate for the sanctions.”

“I didn't spend two and a half years in negotiating this [nuclear] deal in order to simply walk away from it, because I know that there won't be a better deal. There will never be a better deal for the United States.”

“Everybody believes that the impact of those sanctions have already affected the economy.”

—Oct. 28, 2018, in an interview with CBS News in Tehran