Iran: U.S. assets ban "antagonistic," will have no impact

TEHRAN Tue Feb 7, 2012 8:01am EST

A man leaves a currency exchange shop in Baghdad, January 30, 2012.   REUTERS/Saad Shalash

A man leaves a currency exchange shop in Baghdad, January 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Saad Shalash

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Tuesday denounced as "an antagonistic move" a tightening of U.S. sanctions targeting Tehran's central bank and giving U.S. banks new powers to freeze Iranian government assets, and said it would have no impact.

In further defiance of world pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program, parliamentarians said they would speed up passage of a bill to ban Iranian oil exports to the European Union well before an EU decision to bar Iranian crude would take effect.

The U.S. sanctions step, in an executive order signed by President Barack Obama, was the latest measure against the Central Bank of Iran and was meant to close loopholes in existing sanctions Tehran has faced.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said such measures were doomed to fail. "It's psychological warfare which has no impact... There is nothing new, it has been going on for over 30 years," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, referring to three decades of U.S.-Iranian hostility.

Tension with the West rose last month when Washington and the EU took direct aim at the ability of OPEC's No. 2 oil exporter to sell crude to force Tehran to rein in its nuclear work, which the West suspects is meant to yield atom bombs.

Iran said after the EU approved an oil embargo against Iran on January 23 that it would fight such sanctions with its own sanctions. However, a parliamentary debate set for January 30 on a proposed halt to crude sales to the EU was postponed.

But Obama's move provoked Iranian parliamentarians, who said on Tuesday the assembly was ready to speed up passage of a bill to oblige the government to ban oil exports to some EU states - turning the tables on the EU which is to phase in its embargo on Iranian oil by July.

"In retaliation for the Zionist (Israel)-backed measure of the European countries to ban Iran oil, we are ready to impose a ban on oil exports to some European countries," lawmaker Mohammad Javad Karimi-Qoddusi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

"The draft bill has been almost finalized. It will oblige the government to immediately cut oil exports to the EU. The bill also will ban import of any goods from the EU," lawmaker Parviz Sarvari told Fars, adding that the majority of MPs backed

the urgent legislation bill.

No date for a vote on the measure was given.

Mehmanparast said the clerical establishment had no intention to change its nuclear course despite the mounting international pressure. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity and not to develop weapons.

"Sanctions will not have any impact on our nuclear course and they (the West) will not achieve their aims," Mehmanparast said. "Our history has shown that sanctions, which are totally illogical, have accelerated our nation's progress."

TALKS WELCOMED

In a letter to Congress, Obama said Iranian banks were hiding transactions to undercut the financial sanctions the United States and other powers have imposed in response to Iran's nuclear energy program.

Previously, U.S. banks were required to reject, rather than block and freeze, Iranian transactions. Obama's executive order requires American institutions to seize Iranian state assets they encounter instead of just turning them back.

The total value of Iranian assets that would be affected by the new ban was not clear, but Mehmanparast said "Iran does not have any financial transactions" with the United States.

Washington and its allies have been cranking up pressure on Iran to cut off the government's access to capital and oil revenues with the goal of pushing Tehran back into negotiations to resolve the nuclear stand-off through diplomacy.

Mehmanparast said Iran would soon send a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton about a resumption of talks with major powers. "Iran has always welcomed fruitful and constructive talks ... But we have always said that our (nuclear) rights are not negotiable," Mehmanparast said.

The last talks in January 2010 failed because of Iran's refusal to halt its sensitive uranium enrichment work, as demanded by the U.N. Security Council and six world powers.

Washington and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve Iran's nuclear row.

Iran has warned of a "painful" answer, saying it would hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf as well as block the vital Gulf oil shipping route through the Strait of Hormuz.

(Additional reporting by Mitra Amiri, Ramin Mostafavi and Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (7)
Gall0wz wrote:
Riiiiiightttt… And launching “test” missles in the direction of our ships and threatening to wipe Isreal off the map and threatening to cut half the world off from oil is NOT an antagonist move….

Feb 07, 2012 3:29am EST  --  Report as abuse
ChAliGhafoor wrote:
i think both israel and iran should be brought to international court.because only blaming iran is not justice.

Feb 07, 2012 4:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
Free-Speech wrote:
ChAliGhafoor;

Honestly I think Iran would be VERY happy to sit next to Israel in the world court!!! Iran has got NOTHING on Israel when it comes to criminal enterprise…

Gall0wz;

At what point to you discount the fact that Iran is just going about it’s business then the US and Israel threaten to bomb it… THEN Iran issues a retaliatory threat if it is bombed???

At what point do you ignore this fact?

Does fox news not point this out to you??

At what point do you ignore the fact that for the last 50 years it has been the US and NO ONE else, routinely bombing and invading every single country in the middle east, and the rest of the world???

How absolutely, idiotically patriotic do you have to be to ignore the horrendous resume of the USA, especially in the last 10 years.. that is uncontroversial common knowledge the world over?

I mean come on guys!! You’ve been caught red handed so many times they threw away the tally…. No one takes you seriously anymore!!!

You’ve been so disgraced that there is no measure in human history to compare you to…

You are just a war machine! And every piece of information that comes out of your country comes out of this war machine…

Feb 07, 2012 5:51am EST  --  Report as abuse
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