Rouhani says White House “afflicted by mental retardation”, Trump threatens “obliteration”
United States President Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate parts of Iran after the Middle Eastern country’s President said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”.
Mr Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday (local time) as part of the White House’s response to Iran’s downing of a US drone last week.
The new sanctions, which are largely symbolic, target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as military officials.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the sanctions as “outrageous and idiotic” during a televised address on Tuesday (local time), saying they had no practical implications because those targeted, particularly Iran’s Supreme Leader, have no assets abroad.
“You sanction the Foreign Minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” he said, adding: “The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do.”
Mr Rouhani said: “Tehran’s strategic patience does not mean we have fear.”
The Iranian President’s comments are a departure from his usual measured tone.
Following the comments, US President Trump threatened via Twitter that any “attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”
Relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated since the Trump Administration unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year, a deal which limits Iran’s nuclear activity to civilian applications in exchange for sanctions relief.
The poor relations were exacerbated earlier this month when two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, which the US blames on Iran.
Iran denies any involvement and has accused the US of trying to provoke another conflict in the Middle East.
However, in a further escalation, Iran shot down an American high altitude surveillance drone last week.
The US claims the drone was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, but Tehran alleges the aircraft ventured into Iranian airspace over its coastal Hormogozan Province.
The aircraft’s location has not yet been established independently.
Mr Trump allegedly cancelled a retaliatory air strike on Iran with minutes to spare after deciding it would be a disproportionate response.
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