Iran on Tuesday called Donald Trump a liar, which means Tehran has finally come around to something that thousands of Trump U. students, Trump Steaks customers, banks and business associates have known for years.
“You say let’s talk and then you sanction the foreign minister”, President Hassan Rouhani said, during a speech on Iranian TV. “This clearly shows that you’re lying”.
Treasury on Monday said Javad Zarif would be sanctioned later this week.
Rouhani went on to suggest that the Trump administration is surprised at Iran’s resiliency in the face of crippling sanctions. “Today, you get a sense from the government in the US and in the White House that there’s a massive amount of confusion and frustration”, he remarked. “The expectation they had was to tear apart the country within two or three months but they have seen it has become more resistant.”
Trump almost said as much himself on Saturday when, in remarks to reporters before departing for Camp David, the president mused “It’s hard to believe you can put on” any more sanctions.
More than three quarters of the Iranian economy is now laboring under US sanctions. The measures imposed on Khamenei on Monday made headlines, as intended, but they are largely meaningless.
Iran’s Foreign ministry on Tuesday called the Khamenei sanctions “futile”. A spokesman quoted by ISNA also said the door to diplomacy is now closed – for good.
“The futile sanctions against the Iranian leader and the country’s chief diplomat mean the permanent closure of the diplomatic path with the government of the United States”, the ministry said, adding that Trump is well on the way to “destroying all the established international mechanisms for maintaining global peace and security.”
This is the problem with Trump’s broader agenda. By piling pressure on allies and foes alike, the administration has created a scenario where America’s friends share in a common struggle with Beijing, and now Tehran. Everybody is struggling to determine how to deal with (and counter) what is increasingly seen as a rogue administration in Washington. The quintessential example of this dynamic was Europe’s decision to create a special purpose vehicle designed to evade US sanctions and facilitate legal trade with Tehran.
John Bolton, speaking from Israel, said Trump is “leaving the door open” for diplomacy and suggested all Iran has to do is walk through it. Of course, due to the sanctions, it would be literally impossible for Iranian leaders to actually do that depending on where the allegedly open “door” is physically located. Perhaps John meant it metaphorically.
In the same televised speech, an incredulous Rouhani called the Khamenei sanctions “outrageously idiotic” and warned Americans that the White House is “afflicted by mental retardation.”