Iran turns cold shoulder to U.S. sanctions, promises to continue co-op with IAEA, EU

By Liang Youchang, Xinhua

 Tehran : With its usual rhetoric in condemning the latest U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Iran has turned a cold shoulder to the U.S. unilateral move, refraining from taking any drastic action to derail its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA and the European Union.

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Limited Impact On Iran

Washington announced Thursday that it is imposing new sanctions against Iran because Tehran supports terrorism in the Middle East, exports missiles while engaging in a nuclear buildup.

The sanctions, which will be imposed against Iran’s Defense Ministry, its Revolutionary Guard Corps and more than 20 Iranian companies, banks and individuals, are the most extensive since Washington and Tehran severed their diplomatic relations in 1980.

Observers believe that the new sanctions will surely cause further inconvenience in Iran’s import-export businesses and affect its investment environment in the long run, but under the current circumstances, the unilateral measures have little impact in isolating Iran from outside world and changing its policy.

Since the United States and Iran have no direct business contacts, the sanctions will have no practical significance.

Although Washington also warns against foreign banks and companies doing business with Iran, the Islamic Republic still has extensive economic ties with many countries, including Russia and elsewhere in Europe.

Some local observers said that the unilateral U.S. measures would not necessarily be followed by non-American companies, especially those from countries that are not Washington’s allies.

Meanwhile, the U.S. sanctions have not gone as far as blocking Iran’s export of crude oil, which is the mainstay of the country’s economy.

Analysts believe that the soaring oil prices will help Tehran to partially offset the damage caused by U.S. sanctions.

Heightened U.S.-Iran Confrontation

However, the U.S. sanctions, which came as Washington is ratcheting up its warning of a “growing Iranian threat”, would heighten the confrontation between the two countries and complicate the Iran nuclear issue.

U.S. President George W. Bush warned on Oct. 17 that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to world peace, saying “I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also told Congress on Wednesday that Iran is “perhaps the single greatest challenge” to American national security.

With tough-worded response against the remarks, Iranian officials have interpreted the new U.S. sanctions as an evidence of U.S. deep-seated hostility to the Islamic Republic, saying that the American move came as Tehran was making continuous efforts to hold talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Union (EU).

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini condemned the new U.S. measures, calling them “worthless and doomed to failure.”

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is one of the main targets of the latest U.S. punishment, warned that his forces would respond with an even “more decisive strike” to any attack on the country.

“Totally Unchanged” Nuclear Policy

Iran’s new chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili vowed on Friday that Theran’s nuclear policy remained “totally unchanged” even though the United States slapped more extensive sanctions on it.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s basic policy of negotiations aimed at seeking new ways for cooperation and resolving the outstanding issues with the UN nuclear agency and removal of misunderstanding about national nuclear program remains totally unchanged,” he said.

Jalili’s remarks indicate that Iran was taking a cold-minded approach in keeping cooperation with the IAEA and the EU in a bid to counter Washington’s push for further international sanctions on Tehran.

Some observers believe that Washington’s latest “go-it-alone” move reflects a widening gap between the United States and its European allies over how to confront Tehran.

“Imposition of one-sided sanctions by the U.S. indicates that it is disappointed with the companionship of other world countries in the confrontation with Iran,” Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar told his Diplomacy Committee session on Saturday.