Iran Nuclear 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prepared for a long and bitter struggle with the West, Iran reacted with apparent indifference Sunday to the latest round of UN sanctions, with normal citizens brushing them off and the government vowing that Iran was strong enough to withstand them.
The news of additional UN sanctions was deemed of so little consequence that it was given fourth billing on Iranian state-run television. Road accidents during the holiday of Nowruz, privatizations and possible flash floods were all considered to be of more immediate concern.
"Why should we care about sanctions?" asked Ali Reza, a 21-year-old who was shopping for a digital camera Sunday with his girlfriend in downtown Tehran, and who expressed the sentiments of many here over the latest ratcheting up of tensions. "We've become accustomed to this kind of news. As long as I can remember, there have been such reports in the air." "
The UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose the extra sanctions Saturday because Iran steadfastly refuses to stop enriching uranium, a material that could be used to produce either electricity or, as some fear, nuclear weapons.
Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian political commentator, said that until the sanctions hit normal Iranians like Reza, and the drafters of the UN resolution went to great pains to point out that they did not, Iranians would continue to shrug them off.
Iranians and Iranian media seemed similarly nonplussed by news that Iran was still holding 15 British sailors it kidnapped in disputed waters off the coast of Iraq, adding fuel to what many here seem to accept is an already combustible situation.
Laylaz also noted that because the Iranian government had been hardening its people to the possibility of additional sanctions, the news was pointedly muted by state-run media.
"Iran has regularly said that the sanctions and resolutions would not affect the country, so giving any news priority to the reports on the resolution would be contradictory," he said.
The UN Security Council was hoping to show Tehran that defiance over its nuclear program, which Iran insists is solely for the peaceful production of electricity, would leave it increasingly isolated from the international community and the world economy.
Instead, the moderately tougher sanctions, which include banning Iranian arms exports and freezing the assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs, were immediately met with a combination of mockery and bravado.
"The world must know, and it does, that even the harshest political and economic sanctions or other threats are far too weak to coerce the Iranian nation to retreat from their legal and legitimate demands," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Security Council in a rambling speech after the vote.
"Suspension is neither an option nor a solution," he said, while criticizing the Security Council members for being tools of the United States and Great Britain.
State-run media echoed the same tone.
"The UN Security Council, under pressure from the US, Britain and France, approved an unfair resolution against Iran," the state broadcaster said, adding that the resolution could not break the will of the Iranian people or stop their way forward.
The United States has warned of even tougher penalties if Iran continues to enrich uranium, but has emphasized that its target is the government and its nuclear program, not the Iranian people.
In the meantime, on the streets of Tehran, which were dampened Sunday by a gentle spring rain, Iranians peacefully continued their daily routines, though there was a sense that deeper confrontation could be in the clouds on the horizon.
"Neither Western people nor Iranians would benefit from such confrontation," said Lida Anvari, who was jogging with her husband in a downtown park. Her husband nodded in agreement, and both said they were fed up with the news.