Iran has greeted the re-imposition of US sanctions with air defence drills and an acknowledgement from President Hassan Rouhani that the nation faces a “war situation”.
The move has raised tensions in the Middle East as America’s maximalist approach to the Islamic Republic takes hold.
The sanctions end all the economic benefits America granted Tehran for its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. For now, Iran continues to abide by the accord which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium.
While not threatening to resume higher enrichment, Iranian officials in recent months have said this could resume at any time – and faster than before.
The new American sanctions particularly hurt Iran’s vital oil industry, a crucial source of hard currency for its struggling economy. Its national currency has plummeted over the last year, sending prices for everything from mobile phones to medicine skyrocketing.
Mr Rouhani said: “Today, Iran is able to sell its oil and it will sell.”
Iranian state television aired footage of air defence systems and anti-aircraft batteries in two-day military manoeuvres which got under way across a vast stretch of the country’s north.
Iranian army general Habibillah Sayyari said both the national army and the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard are taking part in the exercise.
Mr Rouhani, meanwhile, pledged that Iran would overcome the sanctions.
“We are in the war situation, ” he said. “We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win.”
Iran’s economic chaos sparked mass anti-government protests at the end of last year which resulted in nearly 5,000 reported arrests and at least 25 people being killed. Sporadic demonstrations still continue.
The US says the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.
However, US leader Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, have both made public statements supporting the overthrowing of Iran’s theocratic government.