Tehran: Iran dismissed a new wave of sanctions on Tuesday, saying the West’s attempts to isolate its economy would only serve to unite Iranians behind their government’s nuclear programme.
The United States, Britain and Canada announced new measures against Iran’s energy and financial sectors on Monday and France proposed “unprecedented” new sanctions, including freezing the assets of its central bank and suspending purchases of its oil.
The news pushed benchmark Brent crude above $107, reflecting concerns about escalating tensions with the world’s fifth biggest exporter.
Critics of the sanctions said they would fail to stop Iran’s nuclear work and would play into the hands of a government that wears its hostility to Washington as a badge of pride.
“Such measures are condemned by our people and will have no impact and be in vain,” Foreign Ministy spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference. “They will have no impact on Iran’s trade and economic ties with other countries.”
The latest sanctions were prompted by a U.N. nuclear agency report that suggested Iran had worked on an atomic bomb design. Tehran maintains its work is entirely peaceful and said the report was based on false Western intelligence.
“If our people feel that enemies want to deprive them of their rights by threatening, bullying and adopting illegal and irrational methods, they will pursue the path that they have taken, more united and more determined than ever,” Mehmanparast said.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Iran would hit back.
“This will not go unanswered and we will review our ties with them … there will be a tit-for-tat reaction,” he said.
Russia, whose reluctance to join Washington’s new anti-Iran drive prevented any possible tightening of the four existing rounds of U.N. sanctions, condemned what it said were “extraterritorial measures unacceptable and contradictory to international law.”
The sanctions are meant to pressure Iran to suspend the nuclear programme before it gets the bomb. Israel and Washington say they do not rule out military strikes if other efforts fail.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its atomic work is aimed only as generating power and for medical and agricultural uses.
The risk of conflict, which could close the Strait of Hormuz, the exit point of the Gulf where most crude from the region passes, has worried markets.
Commerzbank oil analyst Carsten Fritsch said the new sanctions “increase the risk of supply disruptions either directly from Iran or transported via the Strait of Hormuz, which carries one third of seaborne oil.”
Some Tehran residents initially feared airstrikes had started when a huge explosion rocked a military base near the capital on November 12 but the blast turned out to be an accident that happened while troops were working on a missile.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul called for a return to talks between Iran and world powers that stalled last January. /Agencies