Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Monday that the United States had launched "psychological warfare" against Iran in the aftermath of its withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal.
"They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation and create divisions among the people," he said.
Widespread protests against a deteriorating economy have erupted throughout Iran since US President Trump announced in May that he would withdraw the US from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reintroduce sanctions that had been lifted as part of the deal.
"America will regret imposing sanctions on Iran," Rouhani said. "They are already isolated in the world. They are imposing sanctions on Iranian children, patients and the nation."
Two waves of sanctions
Fear of renewed sanctions has sparked a currency crisis and caused many foreign companies to pull their business out of Iran.
The first wave of sanctions, which targets a variety of Iranian exports, the country's financial system and Iran's ability to enter the global financial system, entered force at midnight (0400 UTC) on Tuesday. A second wave of sanctions targeting Iran's lucrative energy sector is set to be reimposed in November.
President Barack Obama, Trump's predecessor, agreed to suspend the sanctions in exchange for Iran's commitment to curtail its nuclear weapons program as part of the 2015 deal, also known as the JCPOA.
But Trump repeatedly denounced the deal as ineffective in hampering Iran's nuclear weapons' ambitions and insufficient in containing Iran's aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East.
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'Horrible, one-sided deal'
"The JCPOA, a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb," Trump said on Monday. The deal "threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos," he added.
Trump has indicated he would be willing to renegotiate as part of a more comprehensive agreement with Iran. But Rouhani on Monday dismissed fresh talks while the sanctions remain in effect.
"Negotiations with sanctions doesn't make sense," he said. "If you're an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife," he added.
The JCPOA's other signatories — France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia — have repeatedly defended the deal. On Monday, the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and France condemned new US sanctions in a joint statement.
The European Union has also vowed to protect EU companies from the effects of the sanctions with new European laws set to enter force on Tuesday.
amp/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)