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Iran's Economic Minister Says Sanctions are a Two-Edged Sword

By Alexandra Jaffe

National Journal

WASHINGTON -- Iran’s economic minister said on Sunday that, despite increasing sanctions, Iran will not give up its nuclear program and warned that the upcoming EU embargo on Iranian oil will have an adverse effect globally. He said oil could reach $160 a barrel this summer (see GSN, May 18).

“We have said, time and time again, that we will not give up this unalienable right," Shamseddin Hosseini said on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday. "We are a member, full signatory and abiding member, of the [International Atomic Energy Agency]. There cannot be a hegemony and double standard in the treatment of member countries such as Iran. If these principles can be understood and applied with mutual respect, I think we will be in a much better place.”

He cautioned that it’s necessary to consider the “winners and the losers” in sanctions, because “we can all rest assured that there will be a considerable increase in international oil market prices” following the coming embargo. Hosseini said oil prices could reach $160 per barrel, and said that the sanctions could backfire on members of the international community, particularly troubled economies in Europe.

“The decrease in financial and economic output in Europe will truly be felt” he said, asking later, “Can the industrial powers get out of the current situation they're in with these prices?”

The U.S. and it allies have imposed tough sanctions on Iran, which has maintained that its nuclear efforts are not focused on military use. Israel and the U.S. remain concerned, and both nations have expressed willingness to take military measures if necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, Iran is prepared to weather the sanctions, Hosseini said.

“We believe that those who impose the sanctions have exerted the maximum level of pressure they have been capable of, but the reality that is showing itself today is that the capacities and the economic specialties and strengths of Iran are such that can cause a backlash, an economic backlash, for the imposers of these sanctions and their countries,” he said.

He added: “This really shows that the economy, economic strength of Iran, is in such a way that can withstand these sanctions and will not be the only economy to suffer.”

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