As US sanctions resume, Iran starts annual air defence drill

Both the national army and the Revolutionary Guard are taking part in the exercise

Tehran: Iran has kicked off air defence war games as the United States re-imposed all American sanctions that were lifted under the nuclear deal with world powers.

State TV broadcast footage of Iranian air defence systems and anti-aircraft batteries in the maneuvers under way Monday and Tuesday across a vast stretch of the country’s north.

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Iranian army Gen. Habibillah Sayyari says both the national army and the Revolutionary Guard are taking part and that all ammunition used in the drill is produced in Iran.

The start of the exercise, an annual event on Iran’s military calendar, coincides with the resumption of US sanctions on Iran’s vital oil industry.

The Trump administration hopes the sanctions will change Iran’s policies in the region, especially support of militant groups and its ballistic missiles programme.

Meanwhile, Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, said the Islamic republic “will proudly bypass sanctions” by the United States.

“I announce that we will proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions because it’s against international regulations,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

“We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power. I don’t think that in the history of America, someone has entered the White House who is so against law and international conventions,” he added.

The measures described by Washington as “the toughest sanctions ever” follow US President Donald Trump’s decision in May to abandon the multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran.

The latest tranche aim to significantly cut Iran’s oil exports – which have already fallen by around one million barrels a day since May – and cut it off from international finance.

The United States has given temporary exemptions to eight countries – including India, Japan and Turkey – to continue buying oil in a bid to avoid disturbing their economies and global markets.

Trump’s administration says it wants a new deal with Iran that curbs its interventions around the Middle East and missile programme – demands that have been flatly rejected by Tehran.

“Constantly they are sending us messages saying ‘Let’s sit and negotiate.’ Negotiations for what?” said Rouhani.

“First, you respect the negotiations we already concluded, so that there are grounds for the next negotiations.”



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