Iran's parliament 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
- Iran's trade minister said on Monday sanctions were hitting the
economy but warned Western countries threatening to tighten the measures
that they were harming their own interests.
In a change of tone
from Tehran's usual line that sanctions have not damaged the economy,
Iranian Industry, Mine and Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari said the
West was losing out too.
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"Sanctions are a lose-lose game in which
both side make a loss. If they don't invest in our oil projects, they
will lose an appealing market," Ghazanfari told a news conference.
comments came ahead of an expected announcement by the US Treasury
Department later on Monday designating Iran an area of "primary money
laundering concern" a move allowing it to take steps to further isolate
Iran's financial sector.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often said sanctions are having little effect on the economy and in some cases have made it stronger by making Iran find domestic solutions to economic challenges.
Ghazanfari reiterated the stance that Iran had found alternatives to
Western imports and investments, but did not deny the downside.
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"Facing hardship in a fight is inevitable. I admit projects will get
harder as our trading costs will go up, delays will hit projects and
money transfer will get harder," he said.
"There is a difference between hardship and the impossible. [Sanctions]
will never make the running of the country impossible. There are dozens
of possible ways for us to connect to the world and we are not yet using
all of them."
The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran
since 2006 but Russia and China oppose any further ones, leaving the
United States to issue unilateral measures and pressure its allies to
After the UN's atomic agency said last week the Islamic state appeared
to have worked on designing an atom bomb, Washington has lined up new
sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry, sources have told Reuters.
Ghazanfari said several Western countries remained major trading
partners for Iran, citing Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy among the
top ten countries exporting to Iran.
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