Senior Iranian clerics today blasted the latest U.S. sanctions against Tehran and called on the Rouhani government to take strong retaliatory measures against Washington. Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Naseri Yazdi, Friday prayer leader of Yazd, told a large gathering of worshippers that the U.S. sanctions violated the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers two years ago. “Officials should respond strongly to these measures and should not suffice with issuing declarations on the internet. They must communicate Iran’s protest to different international organizations,” he emphasized. He added that the United States will never cease hostilities toward Iran and should never be trusted.  

Separately, Ayatollah Alireza Irafi, the Friday prayer leader of Iran’s holy city of Qom, issued a similar warning to the Trump administration. “You’ll not achieve anything with loud noises and sanctions. You have seen the Islamic resistance and revolutionary Iran. Therefore, you should understand that you again be defeated. You should know that the nation and authorities of Iran will stand up against your bullying with all its force.”

Comment: On August 2, President Donald Trump signed a congressional bill that imposes additional sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea. The Iranian government said the sanctions violated the nuclear accord and the country’s parliamentary is finalizing its own bill that is titled “Countering America’s Adventurous and Terrorist Actions” in response to the U.S. sanctions.

Earlier today, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Trump “always wanted to kill” the nuclear deal, and added that “to avoid isolation, he’s trying to blame it on Iran.” Zarif and other Iranian leaders have said in the past that Tehran remains committed to the nuclear deal, but is ready to abandon it if Washington increases sanctions against Iran to the extent that the Islamic Republic no longer benefits from the deal.