Ahmadinejad: Sanctions can't harm Iran's economy

Iranian president says trade with Europe has reached the point of insignificance.

Ahmadinejad 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ahmadinejad 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that his country's economy would not be damaged by newly imposed Western sanctions, AFP reported. “At one point our trade with Europe was around 90 percent but now it is only approximately 10%, and even this 10% we don't need... History has shown that the Iranian nation can not be hurt [by Western sanctions],” Ahmadinejad said.
Ahmadinejad's comment came just one day after he agreed to increase bank interest rates on bank deposits up to 21%, hoping to halt a spiraling currency crisis intensified by the new sanctions.
On Monday, the European Union announced new sanctions on Iran which it hopes will deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program. The sanctions, targeting Iran's vital oil exports and its central bank, will come into full effect by July 1.
The announcement places the EU and the United States on a unified path aimed at damaging the Iranian economy to force Tehran's compliance with the international community. Sanctions by the two have already hit the Iranian currency; the rial has been steadily losing value against the dollar, prompting extreme intervention measures by Tehran's central bank.
Turning to the US, Ahmadinejad said that “for the past 30 years the Americans have not been buying oil from us." He added that Tehran's central bank has no relations with the US, according to the AFP report.
British daily The Telegraph quoted him as saying that "they have this excuse that Iran is dodging negotiations while it is not the case... Why should we run away from the negotiations?"

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Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat
Earlier Thursday, China said that EU sanctions on Iran are "not constructive," AFP quoted Chinese media sources as saying. "To blindly pressure and impose sanctions on Iran are not constructive approaches," Beijing's foreign ministry said.
China is Iran's top trading partner, and has consistently opposed the use of sanctions against Tehran. According to AFP, bilateral ties between the two countries have expanded in recent years, partly thanks to the withdrawal of Western companies in line with sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Reuters contributed to this article.