Iran is suffering from the sanctions imposed on its banking system but expects to be able to circumvent them within a month or two, the country’s foreign minister said Monday.
Food prices have increased in Iran “like everywhere in the world,” Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, adding that the recent fusion of the trade and finance ministries created some problems in the way business is being done in the Islamic Republic.
“It’s true that the sanctions made it more difficult to transfer money abroad,” he said in an interview with the Austrian Der Standard newspaper. “But we’ll have found a solution to these problems in a month or two.”
The United States, Israel and much of the western world worry about the Iranian nuclear program. Trying to thwart Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons, the international community has enacted several sets of crippling sanctions against the regime’s banks and oil industry.
“We have been under sanctions for 33 years,” Salehi told the paper’s reporter in Tehran. “They were never reduced, they only kept on growing. The current ones are pretty comprehensive. But we already have a lot of experience with sanctions.”
Salehi, who headed Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization until 2010, said he hoped for a continuation of nuclear talks between his country and the so-called P5+1, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, which so far have failed to bear any fruit.
“The key [to success] is mutual recognition of the worries of the other party: We have to accept that there are concerns about our nuclear activities, although according to our view there is no reason for it,” he said. “But we have to do away with these concerns, and there are internationally recognized methods, instruments and mechanism to do that. On the other hand, we expect that the other side recognize our rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
‘Because of the sanctions we couldn’t buy weapons and thus had to start developing our own weapons. Now we’re the best-situated country of the Middle East in terms of weapons autarky’
Asked about the threats of a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, Salehi said: “When the president of the United States says that all options are on the table, and some Western countries and their representatives in the region speak in same kind of language, we’re taking them very seriously — but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. An escalation is not inevitable. But we’re ready to defend ourselves, we’re not sleeping.”
Salehi thanked the West for inadvertently helping the country increase its military and technological capabilities. “Because of the sanctions, we couldn’t buy weapons and thus had to start developing our own weapons. Now we’re the best-situated country of the Middle East in terms of weapons autarky,” he told the paper. “Everything we couldn’t get — jets, rockets, satellites — we developed ourselves.”
Indeed, the Islamic Republic is continuously improving and expanding its armed forces, including its arsenal of missiles that could strike Israel and other Western targets. As reported by The Times of Israel, Tehran will be able to test intercontinental ballistic missiles within three years.