Rowhani: New U.S. curbs conflict with spirit of nuke talks

Rowhani describes new U.S. sanctions on some Iranian and foreign banks and businesses as 'unconstructive'

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Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said on Saturday new U.S. sanctions on some Iranian and foreign banks and businesses were “unconstructive” and against the spirit of Tehran’s nuclear negotiations with world powers.

But he added at a news conference in Tehran that he was not pessimistic about the continuation of the discussions and that Iranians and their leadership were united behind the effort to settle a decade-old dispute about Iran’s nuclear program.

The United States on Friday penalized a number of Iranian and other foreign companies, banks and airlines for violating sanctions against Tehran largely tied to its nuclear work.

Washington said it was sending a signal that there should be no evasion of the sanctions while international talks continue on relaxing them if Iran agrees to curb its nuclear activities.

Asked for his reaction, Rowhani said: “They are in conflict with the spirit of talks. They are unconstructive in my opinion.”

In remarks quoted by the state news agency IRNA, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said such actions “put into question the seriousness, honesty and good faith of negotiations with the U.S.”

However, Rowhani also struck a more positive tone later in the news conference, suggesting there was hope of reaching a deal by the Nov. 24 deadline.

“It is tough but I’m not pessimistic about the continuation of the talks,” he said.

“Our nuclear negotiating team should not feel alone. The Iranian nation, leader and my government are behind them.”

Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia failed to meet a July 20 deadline to negotiate a comprehensive agreement under which Iran would curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions that have crippled its economy.

The new deadline was extended to Nov. 24. Members from all parties are set to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. general assembly in New York, Rowhani said.