Iran's president seeks to downplay US oil sanctions

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a ceremony to mark the start of the Iranian academic year at Tehran University, Iran, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Rouhani on Sunday tried to downplay U.S. sanctions targeting the country's vital oil and gas sector that are set to be restored next month. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran's president is trying to downplay U.S. sanctions targeting the country's vital oil and gas sector that are set to be imposed next month

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's president on Sunday tried to downplay U.S. sanctions targeting the country's vital oil and gas sector that are set to be restored next month.

Speaking in Tehran University to mark the start of the academic year, Hassan Rouhani said the Nov. 4 sanctions "will have no effect," because "the U.S. has already done whatever it wanted to do."

President Donald Trump's administration has been steadily restoring sanctions on Iran since he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord in May. Iran has been grappling with an economic crisis in recent months, with its currency plunging to historic lows and sporadic protests breaking out.

The U.S. has said it will press other countries to halt imports of Iranian oil, which would cut off a key source of revenue for Tehran.

Rouhani said the current U.S. administration is the "most hostile" ever toward Iran, but that his country will overcome the sanctions through "unity and integrity." He said his administration has allocated some $15 billion to purchase basic goods in the current Iranian year, which ends next March.

Rouhani said the U.S. sanctions are aimed at "regime change." The Trump administration insists its aim is not to overthrow the Iranian government, but to pressure it to radically alter its policies, including its development of ballistic missiles and support for regional militant groups.

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