The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned Swiss ambassador to Iran Marcos Leitner, who represents Washington's interests in Iran, over comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in connection with protests against hikes in petrol prices in the Islamic Republic, Iran’s ISNA news agency reports.
The ministry described Pompeo’ statement as interference in Iran's domestic affairs.
This comes after Pompeo tweeted an appeal to the protesters, saying “to the people of Iran” that “The United States is with you,” accompanying his post with a year-old message about “the proud Iranian people…not staying silent about their government’s abuses.”
As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you. https://t.co/D972wPyLxm— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 16, 2019
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani slammed Pompeo’s remarks, adding that the US is only interested in seeing Iran falling into chaos.
“The US’s goal vis-à-vis Iran is nothing other than to disturb its security and set fire to the Iranian nation’s interests,” Larijani was cited by Press TV as saying.
Mass protests erupted across multiple Iranian cities late last week after the government announced that it would increase gasoline prices in order to save resources as the country grapples with the impact of US sanctions pressure.
US Reinstates Economic Sanctions on Iran
On 8 May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and began re-imposing economic sanctions on Iran.
Exactly a year later, Tehran said it would begin reducing its commitments under the JCPOA after 60 days unless the Western signatories took steps to offset the impact of the US sanctions. The Islamic Republic subsequently began scaling back its obligations under the accord every 60 days.
For months, the US has been stepping up its sanctions on Iran as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign, which aims to force the Islamic Republic to renegotiate the JCPOA.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in 2015 by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and the European Union, required Iran to scale back its nuclear programme and severely downgrade its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief.