Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the “Israel lobby” for American hostility towards Tehran, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Friendlier relations between the Islamic Republic and the United States are possible, but “the key to that is in Washington’s hands, not Tehran’s,” Rouhani said at a press conference in Rome. The Iranian leader, who is currently traveling in Europe, also denied that his country supports terrorist groups, saying, “It is clear that Iran is a country opposed to terrorism and a country that fights terrorism.”
According to the U.S. State Department, Iran has provided funds, arms, and training to various terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Iraqi Shiite militias.
Hamas and Hezbollah officials met with leaders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in July in a bid to further strengthen ties. Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan affirmed in September that his country was committed to arming Hamas and Hezbollah. Later that month, it was reported that Iran boosted its funding of both terror groups in anticipation of the windfall Tehran would receive through sanctions relief.
In a speech earlier this month in Iran, Rouhani said that “with the exception of Zionists and warmongers … American hardliners and extremists,” all parties supported the nuclear deal.
The New York Times reported in November that anti-Americanism had increased in Iran since the announcement of the nuclear agreement. This hostility was marked by the arrests of an American citizen and a U.S. resident, and a surge in cyber-attacks against American officials.
That same month, Khamenei ordered authorities to block the import of over 200 American products and accused the U.S. of using “money and sexual attractions” to subvert Iran.
“Iranian leadership continues to rail against the ‘Big Satan’ without penalty or even opprobrium,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the ADL, wrote in December.
The seizure of two U.S. naval boats and their ten crew-members by Iran in the Persian Gulf earlier this month was described by Lee Smith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, as the latest “hostile act” committed by Iran against America.
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