Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday accused the United States of seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic.
In a speech broadcast on Iranian state TV, Mr. Rouhani used the English phrase “regime change” to emphasize his point, and added that “in the past 40 years there has not been a more spiteful team than the current U.S. government toward Iran, Iranians and the Islamic Republic.”
During the speech, which marked the start of the academic year at Tehran University, Mr. Rouhani also claimed that Washington was now engaged in psychological and economic warfare against Tehran.
“Reducing the legitimacy of the system is their final goal,” Mr. Rouhani said. “When they say getting rid of, regime change in their own words, how does regime change happen? Through reducing legitimacy, otherwise a regime doesn’t change.”
Since May, when President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 multilateral deal that eased global sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s suspect nuclear programs, tensions have dramatically escalated between Washington and Tehran.
In a bid to curb its aggressive behavior across the Middle East, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic with even harsher penalties set to start on Nov. 4, punishing countries who buy Iranian oil by blocking their access to U.S. markets and financial institutions.
The moves have rocked Iran’s economy, as a steady stream of foreign partners have canceled deals and investments. Unemployment is high and the U.S. pressure campaign has sent the value of the Iranian rial plummeting.
Mr. Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton have both singled out Iran in recent speeches, with the president urging other member nations at the United Nations General Assembly late last month to “isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.”