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Iranian foreign ministry spokesman predicts new US sanctions on Tehran will have no effect
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) ' Iran's foreign ministry spokesman on Tuesday denounced Washington's new set of sanctions against Tehran, predicting the measures will have no effect and dismissing them as "propaganda and psychological warfare."
The remarks by Ramin Mehmanparast were the first from Iran after the Obama administration announced the new measures on Monday in an effort to apply greater pressure to get Tehran to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program.
The measures were coordinated with Britain and Canada and build on previous sanctions to target Iran's oil and petrochemical industries and companies involved in nuclear procurement or enrichment activity. The U.S. also declared Iran's banking system a center for money laundering ' a stern warning to financial institutions around the world to think twice before doing business with Tehran.
Shortly after the announcement, President Barack Obama said in a statement that "Iran has chosen the path of international isolation" and that "as long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions to isolate and increase the pressure upon the Iranian regime."
The latest sanctions follow a new report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog suggesting Iranian work toward the development of atomic weapons. Tehran denies pursuing a nuclear weapon program saying its nuclear activities have aimed at peaceful purposes like power generation.
"The action that some Western countries, particularly United States and Britain is pursuing, will be without result," said Mehmanparast. He added that, like past sanctions, the new ones are "only attempts at propaganda and psychological warfare."
"The sanctions reflect the enmity toward our nation and are to be condemned," said Mehmanparast. He said the measures will be ineffective as Iran's trade and economic ties with the United States and Britain were small anyway.
Release of the International Atomic Energy Agency's report had sparked frenzied international diplomacy over how to halt the Iranian threat, including speculation in the U.S., Europe and Israel on the merits of military intervention.
The United Nations has passed four rounds of global sanctions against Iran since 2006, but veto-holding nations Russia and China stand in the way of any further action. American officials have held back from blanketing all of Iran's fuel-related exports and its central bank with sanctions, for fear of spiking world oil prices and hampering the American economic recovery.
Russia, China, India and other nations maintain larger-scale trade with Iran, whose energy exports have helped it shrug off serious harm from the U.N. sanctions and other penalties applied by individual countries or the European Union.
Mehmanparast also denied reports that Iran had supplied former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi with hundreds of special artillery shells for chemical weapons, which Libya kept secret for decades.
"This is another allegation in the psychological war," said Mehmanparast.