Part 2: Iran Responds to U.S. Sanctions

RouhaniOn November 5, President Hassan Rouhani condemned the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran. “We have to make Americans understand that they cannot talk to the great Iranian nation with the language of pressure and sanctions. They have to be punished,” he told officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance. Rouhani also vowed to defy the United States. “We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win," he said. “I have told leaders of all countries whom I met on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly that we will proudly break the sanctions, because these sanctions are unjust and against the law, treaties and U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

Rouhani argued that the United States has lost influence due to its unilateral actions, especially President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. “The fact that, except for three or four countries, the entire world stands by Iran and the U.S. is isolated is unprecedented. This is a great victory for the great people of Iran,” said Rouhani. On November 3, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also argued that the United States was increasingly isolated. 


Khamenei also downplayed the significance of sanctions. He argued that they had pushed Iran to become more self-sufficient. “The Iranian nation used to import everything for years, now it has developed a habit of producing everything.” 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged that sanctions would have an impact on Iran’s economy, but “they will not change policy.” The United States “has an addiction to sanctions and they believe that the sanctions are the panacea that resolve all the problems,” he told CBS News on October 28. The following are reactions by Iranian leaders to the latest round of U.S. sanctions. 


President Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani“With people’s help and unity, we have to make Americans understand that they cannot talk to the great Iranian nation with the language of pressure and sanctions. They have to be punished.”

“What the Americans are doing today is putting pressure merely on the people. Today, we are not the only ones who are angry about U.S. policies, even European companies and governments are angry about them.”

“Today, Iran is able to sell its oil and it will sell.”

“We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win.”

“Yesterday, Saddam was in front us, today Trump is front of us. There is no difference. We must resist and win.”

“I don’t think any other administration in the history of the United States has been this much against the law and international treaties. They have all had breaches of the law, but these people are at the top of them all. I have not seen any administration in the White House as racist as these people and you cannot expect more from them.”

“This is not just us who want this term of US administration to become shorter and shorter, even their European allies tell me that this is one of their wishes. After that, they keep sending us messages for negotiation. You have to respect the deal that we reached after negotiation first. In my latest visit to New York, leaders of four countries were trying to mediate a negotiation with the current US President; while this does not need sending messages. You live up to your commitments and then we’ll talk.”

“We have no problem with talking, provided that the other party values its commitments and promises. If the other party pledges value to its commitments, negotiation is not a problem.”

“See how many countries are supporting the United States. Today, the overwhelming majority of the countries around the world, except 2 or 3 countries, are supporting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and this is a diplomacy victory for Iran.”

“The fact that today, the United States exempts 8 countries for buying Iran’s oil, while it explicitly said that it will reduce Iran’s oil sale to zero, is a victory for us. Of course, if they didn’t exempt these 8 countries, we would sell our oil.”

“I have told leaders of all countries whom I met on the margins of UNGA that we will break the sanctions with honor, because these sanctions are unjust and against the law, treaties and UNSC resolutions.”

“The fact that, except for three or four countries, the entire world stands by Iran and the U.S. is isolated is unprecedented. This is a great victory for the great people of Iran.”

“In what project were the Americans successful? The commercial war that it has started in the world will prove in the coming months to whose detriment it will be. It may have short-term profits for them, but in the long run, the U.S. will suffer a loss.”

“We support the peoples of the region with honor, but the U.S. is proud of backing a regime that kills the people of Palestine every day, putting them under bombing. They are proud of supporting a regime that is killing the people of Yemen every day.”

“The United States will definitely fail in the way that it has chosen against the Iranian nation. The ‘Death to America’ slogan the people shout will be put into action. Its action is that we can put pressure on the United States so that they do not dare to continue following its plots.”

—Nov. 5, 2018, in a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance via and the Associated Press



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

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


"Many of US politicians believe that the U.S.'s soft power has degraded. It was the same during Obama’s presidency, but it is even more evident today during the current administration. The world opposes every decision the US president makes; not only the people but also the governments oppose him."

"The U.S. is declining. Everyone should know this. Those who incline to compromise are making impractical plans. This decline is not related to today or yesterday; rather it is a long-lasting situation. The U.S. is doomed to degradation and to perish."

—Nov. 3, 2018, in a speech marking the “National Day of Fighting Global Arrogance” and the “National Day of Students”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Good Morning. The U.S. administration appears to believe that imposing illegal, draconian sanctions on Iran will bring about such pain to our nation that it will force us to submit to its will, no matter how absurd, unlawful, or fundamentally flawed its demands are. 

We have weathered difficult times in the face of forty years of American hostility, relying solely on our own resources. And today we and our partners across the globe will ensure that our people are least affected by this indiscriminate assault in the economic warfare that directly targets the Iranian people, not withstanding hypocritical claims by the Trump administration to the contrary. 

But rather than relying on its discredited addiction to unilateralism and sanctions as tools of statecraft, which are today pushing it further into global isolation, the U.S. is better off addressing the catastrophes and crises it has engineered in our region. Where to begin? In 1953, or in Afghanistan, where the US created Al Qaeda to fight the Soviets. Or Iraq, where it supported Saddam Hussein, including his use of chemical weapons against Iran. Or the later invasion of Iraq to supposedly rid Saddam of those very weapons of mass destruction.  

Or is it that the long standing and unconditional support for two clients, Saudi Arabia and Israel, that blinds the US to their appalling atrocities that have resulted in global indignation and engendered insecurity to us all, the U.S. itself included. 

Taking a long hard look at its own wrong choices and changing its approach from a failed one, that it has stubbornly followed for decades, instead of prescribing behavioral changes for Iran, will be far more effective in bringing about resolution to conflict and crises that have bedeviled the Middle East for far too long. 

President Trump's predecessors also began crafting their Iran policy with similar bravado but came around to accepting and respecting the reality of Iran as they became more experienced in office. My name is Javad Zarif and this is Iran's message.

—Nov. 6, 2018, in a video posted on social media



“The current U.S. administration is essentially asking all members of the international community to violate international law" by forcing them to break an agreement enshrined in a U.N. Security Council resolution.” 

“Iran is used to U.S. sanctions. We've had them for almost 39 years.”

“It wasn’t our fault that the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner.” 

“It’s a problem that the international community is facing.”

“I believe human beings can change. This administration can have a different approach.” 

“We are willing to wait out this approach.”

“[Iran] is providing subsidies so the necessities for peoples’ lives will be provided at the previous prices, but nobody claims economic sanctions don't hurt. Economic sanctions always hurt, but they don't achieve the policy objectives they intend to achieve.”

“The ‘special purpose vehicle’ (a financial mechanism being devised by European officials to enable trade and banking services with Iran to continue despite the sanctions) is one measure specifically designed as the first step to deal with the Iranian situation, but its ultimate objective is not simply to insulate trade between Iran and Europe, or between Iran and its third-party partners, but in fact (for Europe) to insulate themselves from the pressure it faces from the United States.”

“Trump and his administration said they would bring Iranian oil exports to zero (because of the sanctions targeting its exports). We said that was a dream that will never come true. … We have now seen we were right (because the U.S. issued oil export waivers to eight countries that still want to continue to buy Iran’s oil).”

—Nov. 3, 2018, in an interview with USA Today


“Most countries except for some small countries, have begun to oppose US behavior, especially in relation to imposition of unilateral sanctions.”  

“Nothing new is likely to happen on November 4 when the second phase of the (U.S.) sanctions comes into effect.”

—Nov. 3, 2018 in remarks on the sidelines of the 18th Session of the D-8 Council of Ministers‎, which was held in Antalya, Turkey


“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

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Continuing its breaches of the law and blatant bullying, the [US President Donald] Trump regime yesterday announced the end of the so-called six-month grace period for the full implementation of the sanctions this regime re-imposed on our country on May 8 after illegally withdrawing from the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

Although the move will, objectively and practically, have few negative consequences for Iran’s economy compared with the past six months, it is regarded as a major political and moral scandal for the ruling US regime.

This move alone amounts to a violation of the JCPOA, breach of the UN Security Council resolution [2231], violation of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICC), direct opposite to the clear will of an overwhelming majority of world countries, and disregard for human, legal and moral principles.

The move also once again showed to all members of the international community, especially the countries which are “allies” and “partners” of the United States, that this government not only does not care about international regulations and norms, but also punishes other law-abiding countries for remaining committed to international commitments and regulations, and these countries include countries that are friends and allies of the US, countries whose companies and banks happen to be affected by the recent sanctions.

The US also showed that even a major and powerful military and economic power may lack political independence and yield to some foreign regimes’ demands in adopting and implementing its foreign policy.

It is not clear what is going on in the United States’ foreign policy arena as the statesmen of this country learn no lessons from the inappropriate experiences of their predecessors and it seems that every single president of this country must repeat all the previous wrong policies to achieve the same unpleasant results and experience the inefficiency of wrong approaches first-hand.

In his speech on Friday, the secretary of state of the Trump regime spoke of “maximum pressure” on Iran and at the same time expressed pleasure over the effectiveness of these pressures on Iran’s economy and the lives of Iranian people. Using the most unprofessional and most childish words, he tried to create the impression that those pressures are not directed towards Iranian people.

He seems to be unaware of the fact that every one of former US presidents, too, pursued the policy of pressuring Iran and patient and resistant Iranian people, even to extents more severe than what he calls “maximum pressure.”

Over the past four decades, the predecessors of Mr Trump have pulled no punches with regards to imposing pressure and showing inhumane behaviour towards Iran and Iranians, and hence, no tool for exerting further pressure is left for Mr Trump and his associates today.
Various presidents of the US have numerous anti-Iran moves in their track record, from launching direct military attacks on a passenger plane and oil rigs of Iran to lending full support to the most despicable enemies of Iran, including Saddam Hussein, the hypocrites and other terrorist, secessionist and racist groups, from the so-called “crippling” sanctions to the assassination of nuclear scientists.

Although these pressures and animosities have, so far, inflicted much suffering on innocent people, children, patients and the vulnerable strata of Iran, they have failed to sap the will of these people to continue the path to independence and resistance to foreign pressure.

The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the imposition of illegal sanctions by the US while welcoming a joint statement issued by Ms [Federica] Mogherini and foreign ministers and finance ministers of the three European countries as well as the statements released and positions adopted by the governments of Russia and China vis-à-vis the United States’ illegal move, and their commitment to maintaining financial channels with Iran and ensuring the continuation of Iran’s oil and gas exports, and regards these statements as a proper step on the right path.

The progress made in executing the political commitments of these countries to ensure Iran’s economic interests has been welcomed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Indubitably, the continuation of the existence of the JCPOA is contingent upon these measures going into force and being successful. When it comes to interaction and cooperation with other governments, Iran, as a strong and responsible player on the regional and international stage today, believes in multilateralism based on the principle of mutual respect and seeks a better future for the people of Iran, the West Asia region and the whole world.

Iran strongly believes that in cooperation with friendly countries and with reliance on its domestic potential and international potentialities, it will be able to weather this challenge wisely and prudently and will not allow the Trump regime, which has stripped the US foreign policy of any principles, to achieve its illegitimate objectives.
The Islamic Republic of Iran once again draws everybody’s attention to the dangers posed by this law-defying regime to humanity, the future generations of humans and human life on earth, and believes committed and responsible governments in the world should join hands to tackle the threats posed by this regime.

—Nov. 3 2018, in a statement 


Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani

"The U.S. should rest assured that the Iranian nation will show how Mr. Trump is far too small to be able to bring the nation to its knees."

"Just how the Iranian nation chased Saddam Hussein to his downfall, and the way they chased ISIL’s American mercenary terrorists to their annihilation, they will also make the criminal residents of the White House to regret (their deeds)."

"Today, nations have grown frustrated by U.S.’ hegemony and acts of extortion."

"The current U.S.’ undeserving and unreasonable administration has become the laughing stock of the world’s politicians, and even their old allies are looking for alternative solutions."

—Nov. 4, 2018 in a statement


Chairman of National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iranian Parliament Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh

“Under such circumstances, all internal, international and bilateral capacities of the country should be used optimally in order to deal with the U.S. sanctions.”

“U.S. President Trump tries to impose sanctions on Iran with a humiliating image which shows that he [Trump] is not aware of grandeur, dignity and zeal of Iranian people.”

“Sanctions prove the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards hostility that does not pity Iranians at any time.”

“The U.S. government left no stone unturned to tarnish status of the Islamic Republic of Iran in international arenas but finally, it failed in practice.”

“Effective steps have been taken in this regard in order to follow up the issue meticulously.”

—Nov. 3, 2018 in remarks


First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri

“The government declares honorably that the U.S. will not be able to stop Iran's oil sale.” 

“The Iranian nation should know that nothing will happen with the second stage of the (U.S.) sanctions; they (the Americans) did whatever they could in the past few months and we have adopted the necessary measures (to confront them).” 

—Nov. 4, 2018, in a message on the occasion of rallies for National Student Day