US waging ‘economic war’ on Iran: Supreme Leader

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ISTANBUL (AA) – The U.S. is waging an “economic war” on Iran and sowing discord between Tehran and other states of the region, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Monday.

The U.S., Khamenei asserted, was intentionally sowing strife between Muslim countries, especially by inciting Saudi Arabia against Shia Iran.

Commenting on the extensive U.S. military presence in the Middle East, Khamenei also called on Washington to withdraw all its forces from the region.

In 2015, a landmark agreement was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany).

The deal allows Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program in return for the lifting of longstanding western sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the agreement unless Washington and its European allies strike a separate deal aimed at curtailing Iran's regional influence and scaling down its ballistic missile program.

But the 2015 agreement’s other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, the EU, China and Russia — continue to view the deal as the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Iran, for its part, insists that its nuclear energy program is intended for strictly civilian use.

Trump now has until May 12 to decide whether or not to continue to extend sanctions relief on Iran — with or without the separate deal that he seeks.

Should he fail to extend the sanctions relief, the landmark deal will almost certainly collapse.

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