Less than 24 hours after crippling U.S. sanctions went into effect targeting primarily Iran's energy sector, and hours after SWIFT suspended Iranian banks from accessing the global financial messaging system, succumbing to pressure from the Trump White House, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has published the Islamic Republic's official statement in response.
In a 3-minute video posted to YouTube and published by official government social media accounts featuring Zarif standing in front of Tehran during what appears to be the early morning hours of Tuesday in Iran, the FM condemned what he called the "absurd, unlawful, and fundamentally flawed" anti-Iran sanctions that went into effect Monday and called out the "hypocritical claims of the Trump administration". He confirmed that Iran has rejected the White House's latest demands articulated alongside the sanctions, and declared willingness to do battle against Washington's economic warfare for the long haul.
FM Zarif said:
We have weathered difficult times in the face of 40 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 effected by this indiscriminate assault in the economic warfare that directly targets the Iranian people.
Among the repeat themes of the short speech was an emphasis of "America's isolation" and the global community's willingness to stand by Iran as it "weathers the storm". He also noted that Washington's sanctions will only hurt ordinary Iranian citizens.
FM Zarif also called out the U.S. history of sowing disaster in the Middle East:
The administration appears to believe that imposing illegal draconian sanctions on Iran... will force us to submit to its will.
Rather than relying on its discredited unilateral 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.
He went through a litany of U.S. sponsored "catastrophes" in the region over the past four decades, making reference to the following:
- "In Afghanistan, the U.S. 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."
- "Support for Saudi Arabia and Israel blinds to the US..."
The foreign minister appeared calm and collected as he delivered his even-toned presentation before the camera — a far cry from the "death to America" chants reportedly echoed by protesters on the streets of Tehran and other cities which started last weekend.
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.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 6, 2018
Iran's Message: https://t.co/ptmSMbOzeC
In an indirect reference to the 2015 JCPOA brokered under Obama, which the Trump administration tore up last spring, Zarif said:
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.
As we noted before it's true that Europe is trying to disengage itself from the US sanctions, but so far with little success. Its leaders are begging in vain for an exemption for trade in food and medicine to reduce the population’s suffering.
However, Trump is determined – even if these measures are harmful to the European economy – to prevent any transactions between Iran and Europe. This is one of the main reasons why the European continent is looking at implementing a long-term strategy specifically to disengage itself from the Swift messaging service used by banks and financial institutions for all trade transactions worldwide.
But it remains that Tehran is not standing alone against the US and is waiting to see what course global sanctions will take before taking further steps in reacting. Officials in Tehran, convinced that Trump will win a second term, are preparing for a long siege.