Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AFP/ATTA KENARE
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AFP/ATTA KENARE

Tehran — Iran said on Thursday that new US sanctions were a violation of its nuclear deal with world powers, piling pressure on President Hassan Rouhani as he started his second term.

Rouhani vowed to continue his efforts to end the country’s isolation as he was sworn in by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after his re-election in May. The ceremony came less than 24 hours after US President Donald Trump confirmed fresh sanctions against Iran.

Tehran says the new measures violate its 2015 deal with world powers, which eased sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

The president of the US has repeatedly threatened to tear up the agreement.

"We believe that the nuclear deal has been violated and we will react appropriately," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said on state television.

"We will certainly not fall into the trap of US policy and Trump, and our reaction will be very carefully considered."

The mounting crisis creates a difficult position for Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate who won re-election largely thanks to his efforts to repair relations with the West. "We will never accept isolation," Rouhani said as he was sworn in in front of top political and military officials.

"The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage," he added.

Khamenei took a tougher line, saying Iran must not fall for Washington’s "tricks". "The enemy’s hostility has made us more resistant," he said.

Iranian officials say they have prepared a 16-point document for how they will respond to the new sanctions, without giving any details. The new parliament will vote on a bill boosting financial support to the Revolutionary Guards and a missile programme, both of which are targeted by the sanctions.

For Rouhani, who had hoped his second term would focus on rebuilding the stagnant economy, "it’s unfortunate timing", said Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations. "What will be absolutely critical is how the Europeans position themselves," she said.

Britain, France and Germany — which signed the deal with Russia, China and the US — remain firm backers of the agreement and are eagerly seeking to rebuild trade ties with Iran, despite problems caused by the US sanctions. French company Total defied US pressure in July by signing a multibillion-dollar gas deal with Iran.

"What Iranians are banking on at the moment, maybe overestimating, is that Europe will safeguard and build on the deal, and make it too politically costly for Trump to tear it up, or at least show Washington that if it walks away, it will be doing so alone," said Geranmayeh.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified that Iran is sticking by its commitments under the agreement — a position that has been reluctantly accepted by the White House. But with Iran gaining the upper hand in the Middle East via its support for proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, US legislators appear determined to ratchet up tensions.

The ministerial line-up is due to be officially unveiled on Saturday, but reformist allies are angry over news that Rouhani will unveil another all-male cabinet.



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