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Iran Marks Anniversary Of U.S. Embassy Seizure On Eve Of Renewed Sanctions


A woman walks by a mural on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran in August 2018.

Iran held annual celebrations marking the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, hours before the reimposition of sanctions by Washington on Iran’s key oil sector.

Thousands of people gathered on November 4 at the compound that once housed the U.S. mission for a government-organized rally broadcast live on state television.

The participants burned the U.S. flag and pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump, and chanted slogans such as "Death to America.”

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis and has seen sporadic protests in recent months, but Iranian officials insisted that the country will resist and defeat the return of American sanctions.

Similar events were being staged across the country as well, Iranian state television reported.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days after Washington refused to hand over Iran's toppled shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, for trial in Iran. The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since then.

This year’s celebrations come before penalties targeting Iran's energy, shipbuilding, shipping, and financial sectors are due to come into effect on November 5 following Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Washington in August started reimposing sanctions on the Iranian economy that were lifted under the deal in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

The moves are part of a broader U.S. economic campaign to pressure Iran over what Trump's administration describes as its "malign conduct" such as nuclear and missile development and support for militant groups in the Middle East. Iran denies that.

Temporary Waivers

Washington has said the restrictions aim to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero, but it granted temporary waivers to eight countries to continue imports of Iranian crude.

In an interview with Fox News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to reveal which countries received waivers, but he said the eight unidentified nations "need a little bit more time to get to zero."

Pompeo did not rule out the Trump administration extending the waivers beyond six months.

Bloomberg reported that the eight countries include China and India, the biggest buyers of Iran’s oil, as well as Japan and South Korea, key U.S. allies in Asia. Turkey will also be permitted to continue buying Iranian oil, but the softening doesn’t extend to Europe.

"These sanctions have already had an enormous impact," the state secretary said, adding that Trump's policy of "maximum pressure will be fully in place as of tomorrow."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 3 praised Trump for reimposing the sanctions, calling it an “historic move.”

"For years I've been calling for sanctions to be fully reimposed against Iran's murderous terrorist regime, which threatens the entire world," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office.

Both the United States and Israel are foes of the government in Tehran.

In a speech at the Tehran rally on November 4, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, vowed that Iran "can overcome this economic war and failure of the sanctions project is imminent."

On November 3, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei portrayed the sanctions as part of a long tradition of American hostility toward Iran, which he said had prevailed as “the winner.”

Earlier, President Hassan Rohani warned Iranians that they may face more difficulties after the United States reimposes the sanctions.

"The situation was hard for people in the recent months, and it may be hard in the next several months, too," Rohani said during a televised cabinet meeting on October 31, according to state television.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, and Fars
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