Iran president: US nuke sanctions an ‘invasion’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called U.S.-led sanctions against Iran's contested nuclear program an "invasion", but promised to continue negotiations with major world powers.

The United States took action Friday to sanction more than two dozen people and companies for assisting Iran’s nuclear program and violating existing sanctions.

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“Sanctions are an invasion of the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said Saturday on state television, according to the Associated Press. “We should resist the invasion and put the invaders in their place. We should not allow the continuation and repetition of the invasion.”

Friday’s actions did not impose new sanctions, but rather enforced existing sanctions against the nuclear program, AP said.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the sanctions were meant to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remained “exclusively peaceful.”

“Our actions today and since the start of the talks are consistent with our commitments under the Joint Plan of Action, which provided limited relief of certain sanctions in exchange for Iranian steps that halted its nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects,” she said.

Rouhani called other sanctions against Iran’s pharmaceutical industry a “crime against humanity.” He said he was not sure if he would attend next month’s United Nations General Assembly, and did not plan to peak with President Obama there.

Rouhani was elected last year promising to work more closely with Western powers to ease sanctions on Iran.