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Fresh US curbs have added to mistrust, says Iran's Rouhani


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on Saturday. Iran accused the US of duplicity for imposing new sanctions on organisations linked to Tehran’s nuclear programme, despite long-running but active negotiations to end the standoff. Photo: AFP

Tehran: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday condemned a new round of American sanctions linked to his country's nuclear activities, saying mistrust had been "further deepened" by the fresh measures.

His remarks followed the US Treasury's announcement of penalties targeting dozens of Iranian individuals and entities, including shipping and oil companies, banks and airlines.

The latest sanctions — which Washington said were levelled because of support for terrorism and existing restrictions being skirted—come despite Iran's ongoing talks with the West to end its decade-long nuclear dispute.

"This is not compatible with the atmosphere of the negotiations," Rouhani said of the latest United States action.

"It goes against confidence building measures. Mistrust has further deepened," he told reporters in Tehran, defending Iran's attempts to circumvent sanctions on its oil sector, banks and industries.

"Some sanctions like those against drugs or food products are crimes against humanity. We fight and go round these sanctions and we are proud of that," he added.

A wide array of sanctions, most of them financial, are considered to have wrecked Iran's economy in recent years but advocates say such tough action brought the Islamic republic back to the negotiating table.

Despite his criticism on Saturday, Rouhani pledged that discussions with the P5+1 powers (Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany) would continue.

"We hope to achieve a result within the time limit if the other party acts with goodwill," he said, noting that three or four difficult questions remain ahead of a November 24 deadline.

The biggest disagreement in the talks is believed to concern the amount of uranium enrichment that Iran would be allowed to carry out under a comprehensive agreement with the West.

Talks to resume next month
The talks are scheduled to resume next month on the sidelines of the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, though Rouhani declined to confirm that he would personally attend.

Tehran contends that its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy production reasons and denies the West's allegations that it has sought to develop an atomic bomb.  Earlier on Saturday, other senior Iranian officials hit out at the US Treasury action.

"The duplicity of the Americans is totally unacceptable," said Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi, a key member of the team that for almost one year has been talking to the West about a nuclear settlement.
"You cannot on the one hand say that you are negotiating with goodwill and then at the same time use such means," he added.

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