Iran was engaged in a "smart economic war" against the West which has enabled Tehran to weather the worst of international sanctions, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted by AFP as saying Saturday.
"They [Western powers] thought Iran's economy would break down, but it did not," Ahmadinejad reportedly said in reference to the sanctions.
Iran's Press TV quoted the Iranian president as saying that Iran "can pass through this stage and prevent [the West] from using economic development plans as a pressure lever against our nation.”
While AFP quoted Ahmadinejad as conceding that "Targeted sanctions, which the enemies say are supposed to be crippling, have led to a drop in [Iran's] oil [sales]," he nonetheless claimed that Iran had grown stronger and would utilize counter-measures to offset the effect of Western economic pressure.
Ahmadinejad's comment followed the implementation on Saturday of rigorous new sanctions against Iran's banking, shipping and industrial sectors, as part of the European Union's effort to force Tehran to scale back its nuclear program.
The sanctions, agreed in October, entered EU law with their publication in the European Union's Official Journal.
The new measures mark a significant change of policy for the 27-member
bloc, which previously sought mainly to target specific people and
companies with economic restrictions.
It has lagged the United
States in imposing blanket industry bans because it is anxious to avoid
penalizing ordinary Iranian citizens, while punishing the Tehran
The toughest EU measures yet, they include bans on financial transactions, sales to Iran of shipping equipment and steel, and imports of Iranian natural gas, adding to earlier bans, including on the OPEC producer's oil.
The new sanctions reflect heightened concern over Iran's nuclear goals and Israeli threats to attack Iranian atomic installations if diplomacy and other measures fail to deliver a solution.
Diplomats say they hope nuclear talks with Iran can resume in January, but are waiting for an answer from Tehran.