TEHRAN -- Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday criticized the United States for imposing new sanctions on petrochemical producers in the Islamic Republic, amid a deadlock in talks aimed at reviving a nuclear deal.
The U.S. on Thursday sanctioned a network of Iranian petrochemical firms, as well as companies in China and the United Arab Emirates, accusing them of helping Tehran to circumvent sanctions.
“I am surprised (by the behavior) of the Americans,” President Raisi said.
“On the one hand, they send a message in favor of negotiations and agreement, and on the other hand, they lengthen the list of sanctions. I don’t understand how this works,” the Iranian president said.
Iran disconnected some International Atomic Energy Agency cameras monitoring its nuclear sites this month, shortly after the U.S. and its European allies pushed through a resolution at the IAEA.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian said Thursday, “While exchange of messages through the European Union’s representative continued between the United States and Iran, the White House suddenly came up with the idea of the adoption of a resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
“The goal that the United States sought through proposing it was to get political concessions at the negotiating table,” he added.
In his Friday remarks, President Raisi said, “The world must give us the right not to trust the United States because they are violating their agreements.”
The United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 under then President Donald Trump, before imposing waves of biting sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
It appeared to be the first time the Biden administration has used an executive order put in place by Trump “to restore petrochemical, precious metal, automotive, and select shipping penalties”.
“Absent a deal, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to limit exports of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemical products from Iran,” said Brian Nelson, senior U.S. Treasury Department official, on Thursday.
The Treasury Department named the Hong Kong-based companies as Keen Well International Ltd and Teamford Enterprises Ltd and the Iran-based firms as Fanavaran Petrochemical Company, Kharg Petrochemical Company Ltd and Marun Petrochemical Company.
The Treasury listed the four UAE-based companies as Future Gate Fuel and Petrochemical Trading L.L.C., GX Shipping FZE, Sky
Zone Trading FZE and Youchem General Trading FZE.
It also took action against China-based
broker Jeff Gao and Indian national Muhammad Shaheed Ruknooddin Bhore.
In Tehran, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy dismissed the new sanctions as ineffective.
“Our petrochemical industry and its products have long been under sanctions, but our sales have continued through various channels and shall continue to do so,” Mehdi Safari said.
In a post on Twitter, Amir-Abdollahian called on the U.S. “to be realistic and abandon sanctions lunacy and on the IAEA to focus on technical duties instead of adopting politicized approach”.
The top Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic will “NEVER hesitate to neutralize sanctions”.
The United States has sought to prevent any nation from buying Iranian oil since 2018 after Trump walked away from the nuclear agreement.
China has remained the top buyer of Iranian oil while India reluctantly ended imports under U.S. pressure.
Biden has claimed it seeks to restore the nuclear deal, saying that the United States would ease sanctions if Iran returns to compliance, but his chief negotiator recently said it was more likely than not that the diplomacy would fail.
Laurence Norman from the Wall Street Journal said the new U.S. sanctions against Iran were not consistent with a revived JCPOA and would be lifted if a deal is reached between Tehran and the P4+1 group of countries.
“I understand from sources that the Biden administration believes the sanctions announced today would be inconsistent with a revived JCPOA and would be lifted if a deal is reached,” he tweeted.
He said he understood that the Europeans have been asked to convey this message to the Iranians.