Iranians rally in show of force against U.S. sanctions

Demonstrators burn a U.S. flag in Tehran, Iran, Friday amid national rallies supporting Iran's rejection of U.S. sanctions. Photo by Abedin Takerkenareh/EPA-EFE

May 11 (UPI) — Rallies across Iran on Friday showed widespread public support for Tehran’s hardline posture in the face of new U.S. sanctions — and new tensions that stem from fallout over the 2015 nuclear deal.

Demonstrators burned American flags and denounced the United States, while showing support for the Supreme National Security Council’s decision this week to withdraw from parts of the nuclear accord. In mosques on Friday, preachers spoke favorably of Iran’s stance.

Demonstrators warned the United States against any further provocation, and called for full withdrawal if other parties to the deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and the European Union — fail to protect Iran from U.S. sanctions. This week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave those nations 60 days to implement promises to shield Tehran from the penalties.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions for Iranian metals, including iron, steel, aluminum and copper. The metals are Tehran’s largest sources of export revenue, other than oil, and account for about 10 percent of the country’s economy. The sanctions are the Trump administration’s latest efforts to pressure Iran over weapons proliferation and extremist groups.

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Iran’s National Security Council said the partial withdrawal is aimed at “safeguarding the Iranian nation’s security and interests.”

Since Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal a year ago, the Iranian rial has lost 60 percent of its value and unemployment has increased.

“A lot can change in a year when we make bold decisions to defend America’s national security,” Trump said Wednesday. The next day, Trump said he was ready to negotiate again with Iran. Earlier this week, the United States deployed an aircraft carrier and strike group to the Strait of Hormuz.

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