Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation” after the Trump administration leveled a slate of new sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several military commanders.
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Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also threatened Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s “fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy” would spell “the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy” between Tehran and Washington.
Trump said Monday the U.S. sanctions “will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources,” and added that the measures “represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”
The administration has blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility last Thursday for shooting down an American surveillance drone because Tehran alleged it violated Iranian airspace.
Iranian officials have denied involvement in the tanker assaults, which partly destroyed the two vessels, and the U.S. military has asserted that the drone was taken down last week in “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump confirmed last Friday that he called off a retaliatory strike on Iran, and said Monday that he “look[s] forward to the day when sanctions can be finally lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous and productive nation.”
“That can go very quickly. It can be tomorrow. It can also be in years from now. So I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak,” the president said. “In the meantime, who knows what’s going to happen, I can only tell that you we can not ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon. And it won’t happen.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday that the administration also plans to impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “later this week.”
“You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” Rouhani said Tuesday, according to the AP, adding: “The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do.”