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Rouhani says new US sanctions have no effect on Iran economy

Iran president says latest sanctions have had no impact on the economy because Washington had already practically reimposed them earlier
'It has now become clear that America cannot cut Iran's oil exports to zero,' said Rouhani (AFP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that US sanctions announced on Monday have had no effect on Iran's economy because Washington had already practically reimposed them earlier.

The restoration of sanctions is part of a wider effort by US President Donald Trump to force Iran to curb its nuclear and missile programmes as well as its support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

The sanctions cover 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries and more than 200 persons and vessels in its shipping sector, as well as targeting Tehran's national airline, Iran Air, and more than 65 of its aircraft.

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"The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us," Rouhani said in remarks carried live on state television on Saturday.

"They just issued a long list of banks, their branches... and airlines and their planes. And this shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically," Rouhani said.

The US said it would temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian oil when it reimposed sanctions earlier this week.

"It has now become clear that America cannot cut Iran's oil exports to zero," Rouhani added, speaking after a weekly meeting with the heads of the parliament and the judiciary.

Iraq waiver

On Thursday, Washington said Iraq could continue to import natural gas and energy supplies from Iran for a period of 45 days.

"The United States has given Iraq a temporary relief from the sanctions for 45 days to continue purchasing natural gas and electricity from Iran," the US Embassy in Iraq said in a video published on its official Facebook page.

"This relief gives Iraq time to start taking steps towards energy independence," the video said.

Iraq central bank officials said in August that the country's economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad would ask Washington for exemptions from some of the sanctions.

The current temporary waiver is conditional on Iraq not paying Iran for imports in US dollars.

Trump exited Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers in May and Washington reimposed a first round of sanctions on Iran in August.