Share story

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s parliament approved four new ministers on Saturday, all endorsed by President Hassan Rouhani who urged them to help “resist” and “fight” the U.S. as it reinstates sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani’s comments came as lawmakers were discussing the vote for candidates vying for the ministries of labor, finance, industry and transportation.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Saturday that 200 out of 265 lawmakers voted for Farhad Dejpasand to be the next minister of economy. The chamber has 290 seats.

The former industry minister, Mohammad Shariatmadari, got 196 votes to become the new labor minister and Reza Rahmani was approved by 203 votes as minister of industry.

Mohammad Eslami became the transportation minister with 151 votes.

With their votes, lawmakers signaled their support for President Rouhani as he faces the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S. government.

The U.S. has steadily restored sanctions on Iran following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord in May. Next month, the U.S. plans to impose sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas industry.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis, and has seen sporadic protests in recent months though Iranian officials have generally tried to downplay the sanctions and their effects.

“We have problems that we must solve with each other’s help,” Rouhani told lawmakers.

Rouhani added that the U.S. was undoubtedly the Iran’s largest enemy, saying: “If it weren’t, why would they impose sanctions on medicine and food?”

Iran and the U.S. are in an economic war, stressed Rouhani, who added: “We have to bring the U.S. to its knees.”

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to do whatever it takes to pressure Iran to halt what he described as its “malign conduct,” referring to its alleged nuclear and missile development and support for terrorism and groups that destabilize the Middle East.

Trump suggested he would be willing to hold talks with Iranian leaders, but that would be impossible without permission from the Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all major policies.

In August, Khamenei had said, “Negotiations with the U.S. would definitely harm us and they are forbidden.”

Earlier this month, the United Nations’ highest court ordered the U.S. to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products and services linked to civil aviation safety.