Ahmadinejad: Nuclear development to continue despite economic difficulties
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Tehran would not back down from its nuclear program despite sanctions and the economic "war" launched by the West. He maded these comments while the Iranian currency is continuing to plummet against the US dollar. "The enemy has imposed sanctions (...) against oil sales. However, a large part of our foreign currency revenues is from oil. Worse, (the enemy imposed) sanctions against the Central Bank and if we sell oil, we can't repatriate the money, "Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran broadcast by state television.
"This is a hidden war across the planet," he complained.
"If some think they can put pressure on Iran, they are wrong (...) We are not a people who will give up on the nuclear issue," he said.
The spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, Victoria Nuland, said Monday that the historic fall of the Iranian currency, which has lost a third of its value against the dollar in the past week and 80% in one year, showed the "success"of international sanctions imposed on Iran.
Iran is subject to tough UN sanctions as well as a Western banking embargo in place since 2010 by the United States and the European Union for its refusal to halt its sensitive nuclear activities. "Our friends at the Central Bank (...) are trying (to avoid the sanctions). This is a battle. They (the West) have managed to reduce our oil sales but we will compensate," said Ahmadinejad.
"The enemy believes it can break the resistance of the Iranian people, but he is mistaken," he added.
The Iranian currency the rial hit Tuesday a new record low level against the dollar. One dollar was sold late Tuesday in the open market for 35,800 rials against 34,700 rials on Monday. It had slightly gained ground against the dollar at midday.
"There is no economic reason for these fluctuations. The enemy threw a stone on our path, we must (...) refer it back," said the Iranian president. "We have (foreign currency) reserves in an amount necessary for the country," he said.
"This is psychological warfare (...) Everyone must help the government. Sanctions target the people. They (the West powers) lie when they say they are acting against the government," he said.
On Tuesday, the number two of the Israeli government, Moshe Yaalon, said that international sanctions, despite their effects have not diverted Tehran over its nuclear program, which, according to Israel and many Western countries includes military purposes.
"We believe it is necessary to use severe economic, political or other measures against Iran, and reserve military option. But the fact is that diplomacy does not work, and that the sanctions have not created the desired effect as Iran continues its nuclear program, "he said.
Ahmadinejad, whose country categorically denies seeking atomic weapons, said he was "not very worried" from the Israeli threats to carry out military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. "Iran is not a country that can be shaken with, let's say, firecrackers," he said.
"We have never been aggressors., But we are good defenders who have (in the past) made our aggressors regret," the Iranian leader added.