Hassan Rouhani says Iran will file legal case against US for sanctions

He said the American restrictions on Tehran's economy were 'crimes against humanity'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the crowd at a public speech in Bandar Kangan, Iran March 17, 2019. Official Iranian President website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday US sanctions against Iran were "crimes against humanity" and that Tehran would file a legal case against American officials for imposing difficulties on the nation.

Mr Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television that the US sanctions have affected the value of Iran's rial currency and increased inflation, but said the government would overcome the difficulties.

Mr Rouhani said he had ordered the ministries of foreign affairs and justice "to file a legal case in Iranian courts against those in America who designed and imposed sanctions on Iran".

"These sanctions are a crime against humanity," he said.

If the Iranian court finds against the US officials, Iran will pursue the case in international courts of justice, the president said.

"The Americans have only one goal: they want to come back to Iran and rule the nation again," Mr Rouhani said, reiterating Tehran's view that US sanctions are aimed at overthrowing the government and ushering in one more aligned with US policies.

On Saturday, a US Navy veteran was sentenced to 10 years in prison, his family lawyer said, making him the first American to be imprisoned in Iran since US President Donald Trump came to power.

In May last year, Mr Trump withdrew the US from the landmark nuclear deal signed between world powers and Tehran in July 2015. He then reimposed two rounds of sanctions on the Iranian economy.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action lifted sanctions in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear ambitions.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted immediately after the deal, also included warnings for Iran to halt its development of ballistic missiles, which could be used to carry nuclear warheads.

The US said Iran was not following the terms of the deal, and the country has continued to test ballistic missiles.

The sanctions have hit the country's imports of energy, shipping and finance, leading to economic strife and high inflation.

European signatories to the deal have been under pressure from the US to leave, receiving criticism from the US State Department for attempting to find a way around the sanctions.

European countries have sought to develop a trading mechanism to get around the sanctions, allowing them to continue to trade with Iran.

But European ties with the country have been further strained by Iranian-plotted assassination attempts on European soil.