By Hakim Khatib
The Trump administration’s decision to impose sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior Iranians hasn’t been well received in Tehran.
President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address to a meeting of healthcare professionals on 25 June 2019 that President Donald Trump’s measures against Iran’s supreme leader would be “useless.”
“They said they want to confiscate the leader’s property. The leader owns a Hoseyniyyeh [a prayer venue] and a simple house. Our leaders are not like the leaders of other countries who have billions of money on foreign accounts that you could appropriate,” Rouhani said in the televised address.
“You immediately proved you were lying. You are not sincere. You are not looking to negotiate,” he added.
While calling the White House “mentally retarded,” “desperate and confused,” Rouhani ridiculed the US effort to impose sanctions against the supreme leader. He noted that the supreme leader neither visits the US nor does business with it.
“Today, the Americans have become desperate and confused. This has made them take unusual measures and talk nonsense,” he stated.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the US government “is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy is a permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Mousavi said on Twitter.
What are Trump’s measure?
Trump said the measures would deny Iran’s Supreme Leader and those closely affiliated with him access to key financial resources and support.
“The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps,” Trump said to the press in the Oval Office.
National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Islamic Republic “a source of belligerence and aggression” in the Middle East.
Between an invitation to negotiations and demand for complete compliance, Bolton renewed the Trump administration’s demands that Tehran should abandon its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
“The President has left the door open for real negotiations to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support for international terrorism and its other malign behaviour worldwide. Iran just has to go through this open door,” Bolton said.
There are real fears of negative impact on neighbours.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi fears that tensions between the US and Iran could also have a negative impact on the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
“Pakistan wants a negotiated solution to these tensions. I do not think increasing tensions in the region will help either the US, Iran or the entire region,” Qureshi said.
Tensions between the two countries are now at their highest level in years. Iran’s shooting down of a US drone has also aggravated the tone between Tehran and Washington in recent weeks, as have alleged attacks on cargo ships in the Gulf of Oman, for which the US blamed Iran. While Iran denied responsibility for the ship attacks, it has recently threatened to exceed enrichment limits allowed under the nuclear deal.
On Monday, the UK, Germany, and France issued a joint statement calling for “de-escalation and dialogue” in the midst of “grave concern” over rising tensions in the Gulf region.