Iran-US rancor escalates as US unleashes toughest sanctions

Iran-US rancor escalates as US unleashes toughest sanctions

Tehran, Nov 5: Thousands of Iranians rallied here to mark the 39th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover, as Washington restored all sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal. The crowd chanted "Down with the US" during the rally in the capital, and state TV said similar demonstrations were held in other cities and towns.

Thousands of students in the government-organized rally in the capital Tehran, broadcast live by state television, burned the Stars and Stripes, an effigy of Uncle Sam and pictures of President Donald Trump outside the leafy downtown compound that once housed the US mission.

In 1979, hardline students had stormed the embassy, soon after the fall of the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and 52 Americans were held hostage there for 444 days. The two countries have been enemies, ever since. Iran's clerically-led government celebrates the embassy takeover every year as a decisive blow against the US. The embassy compound, widely known as the "den of spies," is now a cultural center.

Anger and distrust of the US are surging again following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers despite Tehran's compliance with the agreement, which was negotiated under the Obama administration, said a report in the Turkish daily newspaper Sabah. The 2015 nuclear deal brought about the lifting of most international financial and economic sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran curbing its disputed nuclear activity under U.N. surveillance. The restoration of US sanctions, the second batch of penalties targeting Iran's oil sales and banking sectors is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs outright as well as support for proxy forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

The U.S. has been trickling out a list of 12 demands Iran must meet if it wants to see sanctions lifted ahead of their re imposition. In all, eight countries will receive temporary waivers to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil after the penalties take effect.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis and has seen sporadic protests in recent months as Iranian officials have tried to downplay the sanctions and their effects.

At a gathering on Saturday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, portrayed the sanctions as part of a long tradition of American hostility toward the Islamic Republic, which he said had nevertheless prevailed. (UNI)