Khamenei: Sanctions not linked to nuclear program

Iran's supreme leader says West won't end pressure if Iran gives up nuke ambitions, tells EU: Our situation is better than yours.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the US and EU on Wednesday of lying over sanctions being connected to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Khamenei said the West had imposed sanctions on Iran ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, according to reports in Iran’s Mashregh News, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
It was the “Iranian nation’s pride and intractability” that had angered the West, he added, calling the sanctions a “war against the Iranian nation.”
The supreme leader also accused the West of mendacity over promises to end sanctions if Iran pledges to guarantee that its nuclear program is peaceful and has no military component.
“They are saying that if the [Iranian] nation gives up on their rights to nuclear energy, then the sanctions will end. They are lying,” Khamenei said during a visit to the city of Bojnord in North Khorasan.
Khamenei said the main reason for the banking and oil sanctions was “brutality, spite and hatred of the Iranian nation.”
“Sanctions aren’t a matter of yesterday or today, they have existed right from the start,” he added, stating that Iran would not capitulate against “irrational sanctions.”
Iran’s national currency, the rial, plummeted to an all-time low against the US dollar last week, in response to oil and banking sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, prompting clashes in Tehran between protesters and police.
Khamenei dismissed the riots as insignificant compared with protests in the US and Europe.
“A few people in Tehran set fire to a couple of garbage cans for two or three hours, and now they’re saying Iran is in a mess. Our situation is better than yours. Why, for two years now, your streets have been full of protesters day and night,” he said, referring to Europe’s debt crisis.
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Although Khamenei did admit that sanctions had caused “some issues” and that there had been “some mismanagement” of Iran’s economy, he said that Iran would solve its economic problems through its strategy of national production, a mantra he has often repeated.
Iran’s state media have also played down the country’s economic problems, and on Wednesday the rial-dollar rate was still blacked out on the country’s two main exchange rate websites.
However, signs of Iran’s deepening economic woes continue to emerge. A report by moderate conservative website Asr-e Iran claimed that the country’s automobile production was down 42% in the first half of the Iranian year, a significant blow to the regime’s strategy of national production. The Iranian government has placed increased emphasis on its auto business, the regime’s second most lucrative after oil and gas, in an effort to create revenue in the wake of increasing sanctions.
The political infighting sparked by the rial crisis continued on Wednesday, with moderate conservative news site Khabar Online reporting that Iranian lawmakers have now gathered 102 signatures in a petition to call president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for parliamentary questioning over the rial crisis.
MP Mohammad Damadi, one of the sponsors of the motion, said Tuesday that the questions would center on the currency crisis and the president’s mismanagement of the economy.
Other political enemies of Ahmadinejad, including Parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Expediency Discernment Council secretary Mohsen Rezaei, both of whom are possible presidential candidates for next year’s elections, have also rushed to use the currency crisis to blame their rival.
Amid intensifying political infighting over the economic crisis, Khamenei also called for unity among Iranian officials.
“The country’s officials should know and accept their responsibilities and not blame each other,” Khamenei said in his Wednesday speech. “They should be united and sympathize with each other.”