Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at Western nations for imposing what he called “barbaric” sanctions that have caused the local currency to plummet in value in recent weeks.
During a speech from the northeastern city of Bojnourd and broadcast live on state television on Wednesday Khamenei said that Iran will overcome the problems and defeat its enemies.
“These sanctions are barbaric,” Khamenei said according to AFP. “This is a war against a nation… But the Iranian nation will defeat them.”
Khamenei also accused the West of lying in its offer to lift sanctions if Iran comes clean about the nature of its nuclear research program. He added that European countries are “foolish” to support sanctions against Tehran, charging them with sacrificing themselves for the sake of the United States.
Western countries, led by the US and responding to calls from Israel, have hoped to pressure Iran into halting its uranium enrichment program that the West believes is leading to the development of a nuclear bomb.
The EU imposed an oil import embargo on Iran in July, adding to US-led sanctions that also prohibit the world’s banks from completing oil transactions with Iranian banks and further complicating Iran’s ability to conduct international commerce.
Iran’s economy is floundering in the wake of the sanctions causing the rial to sink by nearly 40 percent since August. At the beginning of October riots broke out in Tehran protesting the economic situation; authorities shut down black-market foreign money exchange kiosks in the city’s main bazaar.
Khamenei admitted that sanctions have caused problems but said Western media reports were exaggerating them and that the Islamic Republic will overcome the difficulties. Khamenei said that Europeans are facing far more complicated economic problems than Iranians.
“For an hour or two a number of people set two or three garbage cans on fire in a couple of streets in Tehran, and they (the Westerners) started to celebrate and said there are protests in Iran,” Khamenei. “Is our situation worse than yours? There have been protests on streets of major European countries for around one year, during day and night.”
“Your problem is far more complicated than ours. Your economy is frozen. Do you celebrate that Iran’s economy has been weakened? It’s you that are wretched,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday that the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Yukiya Amano, will visit Iran to discuss the dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear program.
“The visit of Mr Amano to Tehran is in line with discussions about possible military dimensions” of the program, Salehi was quoted as saying by IRNA state news agency.
Later Wednesday the IAEA issued a denial of the report. “There are no such plans at this time,” Serge Gas, IAEA Director of Public Information, was quoted by Reuters as saying.