Rouhani: Trump administration the most hostile in 40 years

Iranian President accuses US of seeking regime change in Iran.

Elad Benari,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the United States, saying the Trump administration is the most hostile towards Iran in the last four decades.

Rouhani also accused Washington of seeking “regime change” in Iran, according to Reuters, which quoted a speech made by the Iranian President and broadcast on state TV.

“In the past 40 years there has not been a more spiteful team than the current US government team toward Iran, Iranians and the Islamic Republic,” Rouhani charged.

“There was a time when there was one person who had enmity. The rest were moderate. Now ... the worst have gathered around each other,” he added in a speech marking the beginning of the academic year at Tehran University.

Rouhani accused the Americans of using psychological and economic warfare and questioning the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic.

“Reducing the legitimacy of the system is their final goal. 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,” he said, using the English phrase “regime change” to emphasize his point, according to Reuters.

Tensions have increased between Iran and the United States in recent months, following US President Donald Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Trump then signed an executive order officially reinstating US sanctions against Iran. Additional US sanctions targeting Iran's oil and shipping industries will go into effect on November 4.

While Trump has indicated he is open for talks without preconditions with Rouhani, the Iranian leader has dismissed Washington's call for new nuclear negotiations at the same time as it reimposes sanctions on his country.

Responding to Rouhani’s claims on Sunday, a State Department spokesman repeated Washington’s position that it wants a change in Iran’s behavior but “the United States is not seeking regime change.”

He said Trump has voiced a willingness to enter into talks with Iran and wants a deal that also covers its missile program, support for terrorism and “malign regional behavior.”

“Our hope is that ultimately the regime will make meaningful changes in its behavior,” he added.