Iran fires minister as sanctions start to bite

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"We are encouraging small and medium enterprises in particular to increase business with and in Iran as part of something (that) for us is a security priority", she said during a joint press conference with New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

Critics accused him of mismanagement and blamed him for the country's recent economic problems, which have been exacerbated by the restoration of USA sanctions lifted under the 2015 nuclear agreement.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by an Iranian newspaper as saying that a USA plan to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero would not succeed.

Washington's unilateral anti-Iran campaign has nothing to do with worldwide law and fair trade, and thus the threat of potential sanctions won't affect Beijing's sovereign right to freely choose its business partners.

Noting Iran's geographic proximity to Europe, Maas warned that "anyone who's hoping for regime change must not forget that whatever follows could bring us much bigger problems".

The new USA sanctions, imposed on Tuesday, target Iran's access to dollars and its ability to trade in gold and other precious metals.

"China's commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions", it added.

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Rouhani did not specify what consequences the United States could face, but in the past Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major shipping route in the Middle East, in retaliation for any USA actions. At current market rates, the imports are worth some $15 billion a year.

President Trump slammed the Iranian regime with "the most biting sanctions ever imposed" this week; warning global leaders that anyone "doing business with Iran" will "not be doing business with the United States".

In several videos posted to social media over the past week, crowds of dissidents are heard chanting, "Death to the dictator" as the United States prepared to reinstate sanctions on the country following President Donald Trump's exit from the worldwide nuclear deal in May.

When talking about Iran's right to the Strait of Hormuz, Rouhani had commented that Americans "should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars".

Iran has dismissed a last-minute offer from the Trump administration for talks, saying it could not negotiate while Washington had reneged on the 2015 deal to lift sanctions.

"I feel like my life is being destroyed", said one construction worker on the streets of the capital.

Trump decided this year to pull out of the agreement, ignoring pleas from the other world powers that had co-sponsored the deal, including Washington's main European allies, Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russian Federation and China.

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