Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to order sanctions on its supreme leader and other officials has permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday imposing new sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei, and eight Revolutionary Guard commanders, as tensions mount after Tehran’s downing of an unmanned US drone.
“Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks including shooting down of US drones,” Trump announced from the White House Oval Office, calling the sanctions “hard-hitting”.
“Along with our existing sanctions authority we have additional sanctions to go after the Supreme Leader’s office and lock up literally billions of dollars more of assets,” US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said at a briefing. “Along with that action today we are also announcing specific actions targeting those responsible for recent activities”.
Mnuchin said the US would target three other senior Iranian leaders, and that Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would be hit with sanctions later in the week.
The treasury department listed eight senior officials in addition to the Supreme Leader’s office.
Trump nor Tehran are looking for war
Trump said Sunday he was not seeking war with Tehran. The remark came after a senior Iranian military commander warned any conflict in the Gulf region could spread uncontrollably and threaten the lives of US troops.
“I’m not looking for war,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press program on Sunday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated to reporters on Sunday that Washington was prepared to negotiate with Tehran with no preconditions.
Tehran, meanwhile, said ahead of the sanctions announcement on Monday that it could be willing to discuss new concessions with Washington if the US lifted current sanctions and offered new incentives.
Trump had tweeted Saturday that the US was planning on imposing new sanctions.
“Regardless of any decision they (U.S. officials) make… we will not allow any of Iran’s borders to be violated. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday.
Iran accuses the US of having ‘thirst for war’
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in response to the sanctions that hawkish politicians close to Trump “despise diplomacy” and have a “thirst for war.”
Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told reporters at the UN on Monday that it would not accept talks with the US while it was under the threat of sanctions.
The US decision is another indication it “has no respect for international law and order,” he said.
The two countries fell out last year when the US abandoned a 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear powers in return for lifting sanctions.
In recent weeks tensions have mounted after the US blamed Iran for attacks on vessels at sea, which it has repeatedly denied. Iran then shot down a drone last week, saying it was in its air space, but Washington alleges it was flying over international waters.
As evidence the drone had been shot down over Iranian territory, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif published a map on Twitter with coordinates that allegedly showed the drone flying over Iran’s territorial waters.