Stories by Barbara Leaf

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U.S. and Iran ramp up war of words ahead of sanctions

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif meeting with foreign embassies and diplomatic mission representatives in Tehran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif meet with diplomatic representatives of Iran, in Tehran, on July 22, 2018. Photo: Iranian Presidency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tensions between Tehran and Washington are building as new sanctions approach on August 6, the first set since the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's scathing indictment of the Iranian leadership in a July 22 speech came amid threats from President Rouhani, backed up by Supreme Leader Khamenei and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, which then precipitated a twin salvo of fiery counter-threats by President Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Yes, but: This doesn't mean war is imminent between Tehran and Washington. The Trump administration's strategy still centers on economic pressure, rather than military measures. And Iran's leadership is nothing if not the master of snappy responses to threats from Washington, which offer a welcome distraction from mounting economic pressures at home.

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