Amid Tensions With U.S., Iran's Rohani Seeks Wartime Executive Powers

Rohani cites 1980s war with Iraq, when a wartime supreme council was able to bypass other branches to make decisions regarding the economy and the war, IRNA news agency reports

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rohani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, January 13, 2015.
Mohammad Berno,AP

Iran's president has told a group of clerics that he is seeking expanded, wartime executive powers to better deal with an "economic war" triggered by the Trump administration's pullout from the nuclear deal and escalating U.S. sanctions.

The state IRNA news agency reported late Monday that President Hassan Rohani cited the 1980s war with Iraq, when a wartime supreme council was able to bypass other branches to make decisions regarding the economy and the war.

The report didn't specify what the new powers would entail but quoted Rohani as saying that "today, we need such powers."

Rohani said Iran is facing unprecedented problems in "banking and selling oil" but that the country "is united that we should resist the U.S. and the sanctions."

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"Today's situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only" IRNA quoted Rohani as saying.

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Former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says America "needs to engage more in the world and intervene militarily less."

Mattis, a retired Marine general, spoke on Monday night at a previously unannounced speech before a Ramadan lecture series in honor of Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

According to a report in the state-linked newspaper The National, Mattis stressed that "Iran's behavior must change." However, he stressed that unilateral action is not the way forward with Iran and that the "military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."

Speaking about America in general, Mattis said: "America will frustrate you at times because of its form of government, but the UAE and America will always find their way back to common ground, on that I have no doubt.

On Tuesday, Yemen's Houthi rebels said Tuesday they launched a bomb-laden drone targeting an airport in Saudi Arabia that also has a military base inside of it.

The attack on Najran comes as Iran quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the U.S. over Tehran's atomic program, nuclear officials said Monday, just after President Donald Trump and Iran's foreign minister traded threats and taunts on Twitter.

Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67 percent limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what's needed for an atomic weapon.

But by increasing production, Iran soon will exceed the stockpile limitations set by the accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Middle East already on edge. The Trump administration has deployed bombers and an aircraft carrier to the region over still-unspecified threats from Iran.