Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iranian President Threatens US Over Sanctions Extension


In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, center, Science Minister Mohammad Farhadi, right, and head of the President's office Mohammad Nahavandian, left, listen to the national anthem at the start of a ceremony marking Student Day at Tehran University in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is threatening the United States with a “harsh reaction”, after Congress voted last week to renew sanctions against the country for an additional 10 years.

Rouhani said if U.S. President Barack Obama implements the sanctions it would mark a “blatant and clear breach” of the nuclear agreement reached last year.

Obama is expected to sign the Iran Sanctions Act into law before leaving office in January. His administration has said it does not believe the sanctions violate the nuclear deal.

Rebublicans on Capitol Hill seemed unconcerned by Rouhani's displeasure with their actions and dismissed his threats.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio told VOA he did not care about Iran's reaction and called the country "the world's leading sponsor of terrorism."

South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham called Iran's reaction to the extension of sanctions "bluster" and told VOA more sanctions could be levied against Iran next year.

The Iran sanctions law was first passed by Congress in 1996 and has been renewed multiple times since then. Obama suspended the sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program as part of the nuclear deal, but keeping them on the books would allow an incoming president to use the sanctions as he sees fit.

"America ... is our enemy, we have no doubt about this. The Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can," Rouhani told

This has Rouhani worried, as President-elect Donald Trump has said he would “tear up” the nuclear deal once he takes office. Rouhani did not mention Trump by name, referring to him only as “some man … elected in the U.S.”

“Whatever plans he has, it will be revealed later,” Rouhani told a group of students gathered at Tehran University. “He may desire to weaken the nuclear deal. He may desire to rip up the deal. Do you suppose we will allow this? Will our nation allow this?”

Trump repeatedly bashed the nuclear deal during the presidential campaign, calling it “catastrophic” and promising to renegotiate.

Michael Bowman contributed to this story from Capitol Hill