Rouhani calls for unity to face 'unprecedented' US pressure

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The British Council is a cultural and educational organisation with branches around the world, but according to its website, it is not "physically present" in Iran.

"The pressures by enemies is a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic revolution. but I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these hard conditions provided that we are united", Rouhani told activists from various factions.

The White House said Wednesday it dispatched the aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over what it described as a new threat from Iran.

The Trump administration is hoping to compel Tehran to negotiate a new agreement, and the increased sanctions might indeed force Iran to respond.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to retaliate to the United States measures by blocking the Strait of Hormuz - through which about a fifth of all oil consumed globally pass.

The officials met just days after the USA fast-tracked an aircraft carrier and bombers to the Persian Gulf.

The sanctions have more than halved Iranian oil exports to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) or less. Images released by the U.S. Air Force's Central Command show B-52H Stratofortress bombers arriving at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Thursday night.

And on Wednesday, Iran threatened to renew some nuclear enrichment that had been halted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. -Iranian tensions have risen since Trump withdrew a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and major powers and began ratcheting up sanctions to throttle Tehran's economy. A patrol boat was dispatched by the Venezuelan Navy to discourage the United States ship from encroaching further.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have escalated sharply in recent weeks.

European leaders said that while they remained committed to the Iran nuclear deal, they "reject any ultimatums" from Tehran to prevent its collapse.

Rhetoric has grown heated on both sides.

Friday's report by the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Yadollah Javani as saying that "there will be no negotiations with America".

The arrest of Iranians accused of espionage has increased since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said past year there had been "infiltration" of Western agents in the country.

It is also the first reaction by someone linked to IRGC about President Trump's Trump's remarks on Thursday about looking forward to Iranian leaders calling him.

"Our nation. sees America as unreliable", he said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, echoing a stance Iran has taken since the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

Still, Pompeo stressed that he would "welcome" a call from Tehran, but that sanctions and American military posturing would continue unless the Iranian government "changes its behavior". Iran has threatened to go further if other parties to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation - fail to shield it from USA sanctions. He did not specify whether she held British nationality.