- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2018

Iran’s president in a nationally televised address Monday slammed President Trump’s decision to restore U.S. economic sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal and accused Mr. Trump of playing politics at home while trying to sow “chaos” in Iran.

“The U.S. reimposes sanctions on Iran and pulls out of the nuclear deal, and then wants to hold talks with us,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a statement carried live on Iranian national television.

“Trump’s call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America ahead of elections … and to create chaos in Iran,” he added.

Following through on a pledge to take the U.S. out of the accord with Tehran negotiated under President Obama, the Trump administration announced it will reimpose tough economic sanctions on Iran on Tuesday — and also target foreign companies who sign deals with the Islamic Republic. A second set of sanctions on Iran’s critical oil and gas export sector are coming in November, U.S. officials say.

Mr. Rouhani was a major supporter of the 2015 deal, but has been under pressure from hard-liners within the regime and from ordinary Iranians as the economic benefits of the accord have yet to materialize.

On Monday, he again rejected Mr. Trump’s offer of direct talks, which the U.S. wants to focus on ending Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and its destabilizing moves against Israel and U.S. Arab allies.

“We are always in favor of diplomacy and talks,” Mr. Rouhani said Monday. “… But talks needs honesty.”

On Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the Trump administration “hypocritical” for claiming to have the interests of the Iranian people at heart with the new sanctions.

“The Trump administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people,” he tweeted. “Yet the very first sanctions it reimposed have canceled licenses for sales of 200-plus passenger jets under absurd pretexts, endangering ordinary Iranians.”

Iran, which has seen a string of popular protests over economic conditions in recent months, has been negotiating with the 2015 deal’s other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — on ways to work around the U.S. sanctions, but economic analysts say that could be difficult.

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