LONDON (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Sunday that a new Iran Action Group in the U.S. State Department aimed to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but would fail.
He was speaking on the 65th anniversary of a U.S.-backed coup that overthrew a democratically elected Iranian prime minister, an occasion when anti-American sentiment runs particularly high in the Islamic Republic.
Comparing fresh U.S. sanctions on Tehran imposed by President Donald Trump with the 1953 coup that ousted nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, Zarif said Tehran will not let history repeat itself.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as special representative for Iran in charge of the Iran Action Group to coordinate Trump’s pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic following Washington’s withdrawal from an international nuclear deal with Tehran.
Zarif tweeted: “65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years. Now an “Action Group” dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery. Never again.”
The United States and Britain orchestrated the removal of Mossadegh after he acted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, restoring to power Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The Western-backed shah was toppled in Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the coup was the best historical lesson that Americans cannot be trusted.
“How dare you talk about the freedom of the Iranian nation with your dark record of the Aug. 19 coup, and the appointment of a puppet totalitarian regime,” Larijani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA, referring to the shah’s rule.
“Americans are imposing sanctions but they claim they are supporting freedom, human rights, and global and regional security,” Larijani said.
The 1953 Anglo-American coup remains an open wound in Iran’s relations with the West. In March 2000, then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first senior American official to acknowledge the American role in the coup, calling it “a setback for Iran’s political development”.
Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since the shah’s fall. Decades of hostility eased somewhat with the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration and five other world powers. But high tensions resumed after Trump pulled Washington out of the deal, calling it flawed in Iran’s favor.
Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Mark Heinrich