Iran can overcome “barbaric” economic sanctions imposed by Western countries over its controversial nuclear program, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.
“These sanctions are barbaric. This is a war against a nation... But the Iranian nation will defeat them,” Khamenei said in a speech during a visit to the northeastern province of North Khorasan, broadcast on state television.
The Iranian rial has slumped as much as 40 percent against the dollar since August, leading to spiraling inflation, as U.S. and European sanctions curb Iran’s oil output and cut off the flow of hard currency. Protests against the rising cost of living broke out in Tehran’s markets last week and police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
“A few people on two streets burned two trash bins and our enemies became happy,” Khamenei said, according to Press TV. “Our enemies should know that Iran will overcome these problems and will defeat them again.”
He also accused the West of “lying” over its offer to lift sanctions in return for Iran furnishing guarantees to back its claims its atomic program is intended for civilian purposes only.
The West suspects Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons capacity, despite repeated denials from Tehran.
Israel has threatened military attacks on the Islamic Republic to prevent it gaining atomic weapons. The U.S. also hasn’t ruled out using force to that end, raising concern that a conflict in the Arabian Gulf, home of the world’s biggest oil reserves, could disrupt supplies. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and its economy is being unfairly targeted.
Khamenei said the sanctions had created “problems” for the country, and that “some mismanagement” of the draconian measures was adding to those problems. He did not elaborate, according to AFP.
The supreme leader also rejected the notion that sanctions were linked to Iran's nuclear efforts, as the West claims they are.
“The enemies -- the U.S. and some European governments -- are nowadays linking the sanctions to (Iran’s pursuit) of nuclear energy. They are lying,” he said.
He argued that his country has been targeted by sanctions since the 1979 Islamic revolution for its “independence and resistance” against world powers.
Western power have tightened an economic sanctions regime against the Islamic republic over the past two years, causing a drop in Iran’s oil exports and production, a collapse of its currency, slowing its economy and boosting the ranks of the jobless.
Talks between Iran and major powers on the nuclear impasse have stalled for years. Tehran is also under several sets of international sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council.