TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday denounced European countries that are tightening sanctions on Iran as puppets of a U.S. master and said he was surprised at their moves to isolate Tehran’s central bank.
“We have had no relations with America for the past 32 years so we had no relationship with them yesterday and won’t have tomorrow,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
“But we are surprised by these European puppets, who immediately repeat whatever their master says like impotent servants.”
The United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors on Monday and the European Union followed suit the next day in a concerted effort to pressure Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
Britain banned all transactions with the Central Bank of Iran; France and the Netherlands have called for similar action. The move has rattled politicians in Iran where some lawmakers have called for the expulsion of the British ambassador.
“They have said ‘we should cut relations with the central bank and block the money of the Iranian people’,” Ahmadinejad said, accusing Western countries of wanting to plunder Iranian bank accounts abroad to ease their own economic crises.
“Any expropriation of the Iranian people’s foreign exchange reserves is considered major theft and the Iranian people will treat those who do this as thieves,” he told a large crowd gathered at an outdoor venue near Tehran.
The latest sanctions were prompted by a U.N. nuclear watchdog report that suggested Iran has worked on an atomic bomb design. Tehran maintains its nuclear work is entirely peaceful and said the report was based on false Western intelligence.
Reporting by Mitra Amiri; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Mark Heinrich