Iran’s president has responded with defiance to the latest sanctions imposed by the US, saying they show it is lying about wanting dialogue. Hassan Rouhani said Donald Trump’s policy was one of desperation, calling the White House “mentally retarded”. The sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader would be useless, while those targeting its foreign minister closed off diplomacy, Mr Rouhani warned. Mr Trump said he was responding to recent “aggressive behavior” by Iran.Last week, Iranian forces shot down a US surveillance drone that they said had violated Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. The US insisted the drone was flying over international waters. The US has also accused Iran of being behind two sets of explosions that have damaged six oil tankers in the region, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes each day. Iran has rejected the allegation.
Tensions between the two countries have escalated steadily since May 2018, when Mr Trump abandoned the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and began reinstating sanctions to force Iran to renegotiate the accord.Last month, the president stepped up pressure by ending exemptions from secondary sanctions for countries still buying Iranian oil, saying he wanted to deny Iran’s government its principal source of revenue. In response, Mr Rouhani announced that Iran was scaling back some of its commitments under the nuclear deal. Officials expect its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to breach a 300kg (660lb) limit on Thursday. Enriched uranium is used to make reactor fuel and potentially nuclear weapons.