The Iranian Foreign Ministry and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) exchanged accusations, following an official Iranian announcement of sanctions imposed on the Washington-based center and its director on charges of inciting and spreading negative propaganda against Tehran.
The Foundation defines itself as a non-profit, non-partisan research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security.
FDD responded to the Iranian move saying it considers its inclusion on any list put out by the regime as “a badge of honor and looks forward to the day when Americans and others can visit a free and democratic Iran.”
In its statement, the Foundation asserted that it conducts independent research and analysis on national security issues, adding that Iran prohibits such freedoms at home, and would like to do so abroad as well.
In another tweet, the institute accused the Iranian regime of occupying the “great nation of Iran for four decades,” saying it continues to repress Iranians, stealing their wealth and creating destruction and chaos in the Middle East.
The announcement comes less than a month after the United States imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, following the escalation of tension between Tehran and Washington.
State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus described the regime in Iran as an “outlaw regime,” asserting that US takes the threats against FDD and its CEO seriously.
“We intend to hold Iran responsible for directly or indirectly compromising the safety of any American.”
FDD reports, which strongly opposed the nuclear agreement, discussed the effect of the US sanctions on the Iranian economy and the Iranians.
For their part, Iranian authorities strongly condemned the reports.
The institute is against US circles with good ties to the Iranian foreign ministry, such as the Iranian lobby known as National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said it had imposed sanctions on the Foundation and its director, Mark Dubowitz, on charges of “economic terrorism” against Tehran, reported IRNA.
The Ministry said in a statement that the Foundation and its CEO have been and “are effectively involved in a conscious and intentional manner in designing, imposing and intensifying the impacts of economic terrorism against Iran.”
It described the name of the Foundation as “deceitful” saying it has been seriously and actively trying to harm the Iranian people’s security and vital interests through measures such as fabricating and spreading lies, encouraging, providing consultations, lobbying, and launching a smear campaign.
The statement concluded by saying the Foundation and its CEO will face legal consequences, asserting it will be “without prejudice to any further legal measures" that other institutions and organizations may take in order to counter, prosecute or punish the persons or "other Iranian and non-Iranian collaborators and accomplices for their actions and measures against the Iranian government and people’s national security and interests.”