Mon, May 13, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Iran’s Rouhani calls for unity amid ‘unprecedented’ pressure from US

Reuters, DUBAI

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called for unity among Iran’s political factions to overcome conditions which he said might be harder than those during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, state media reported, as the country faces tightening US sanctions.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leaders to talk to him about giving up their nuclear program and said that he could not rule out a military confrontation.

Trump made the offer as he increased economic and military pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the US Navy and Air Force presence in the Persian Gulf.

Washington has also approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East.

“Today, it cannot be said whether conditions are better or worse than the war period, but during the war we did not have a problem with our banks, oil sales or imports and exports, and there were only sanctions on arms purchases,” Rouhani said, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

“The pressures by enemies is a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic revolution ... but I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these difficult conditions provided that we are united,” Rouhani told advocates from various factions.

Hardliners have criticized Rouhani after Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Rouhani supported.

The pragmatic president has also been abandoned by some of his moderate allies.

Separately, a media court on Saturday suspended the weekly Seda (“Voice”), the semi-official news agency Iranian Students’ News Agency reported, after the reformist magazine published an issue that included articles warning about the possibility of war with the US.

“At the crossroads of war and peace, have moderates lost or will they again save Iran from war?” the main headline on the front page read against a photograph of US Navy warships.

On social media, hardliners attacked the magazine as “Trump’s voice,” suggesting that its warning about the danger of war amounted to a call for talks with the US, Iran’s arch-enemy.

“At the height of America’s political, economic and media war against the Iranian nation, an Iranian publication supplements the enemy’s media operations inside the country,” the semi-official Fars news agency wrote in a comment.

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