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Ahmadinejad: U.S. sanctions attempt to hinder Iran's progress

By the CNN Wire Staff
Ahmadinejad "nothing can stop the progress of our industry"  in his first comments following new U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Ahmadinejad "nothing can stop the progress of our industry" in his first comments following new U.S. sanctions against Iran.
  • Speech represents Ahmadinejad's first remarks since U.S. sanctions signed into law
  • Sanctions target companies selling refined petroleum to Iran
  • Ahmadinejad says exports reached $18 billion despite sanctions
  • Report: Tehran says it can meet its energy needs

(CNN) -- New U.S. sanctions on Iran show the West does not understand the Islamic republic and "are aimed at preventing Iran from becoming an industrial pole and achieving its rightful place," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech Saturday, according to Iranian media.

But, he said, Iran has mastered the art of overcoming obstacles and "nothing can stop the progress of our industry," Iran's state-run Press TV reported, citing the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

The speech represented Ahmadinejad's first since U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law new sanctions on Iran. Last week, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved the sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

Tehran claims the program is for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other Western nations fear Iran is attempting to develop a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. sanctions target companies that sell refined petroleum products to Iran and international banks that do business with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

"It makes it harder for the Iranian government to purchase refined petroleum and the goods, services and materials to modernize Iran's oil and natural gas sector," Obama said Thursday. "It makes it harder for the Revolutionary Guards and banks that support Iran's nuclear programs and terrorism to engage in international finance. It says to companies seeking procurement contracts with the United States government, 'If you want to do business with us, you first have to certify that you're not doing prohibited business with Iran.'"

But Ahmadinejad said Saturday that "threats, political pressure and Western sanctions" were aimed at hindering Iran, Press TV reported.

"We are all part of one family and should endeavor for Iran's progress," he said. Iran does not seek world dominance and its diplomacy does not aim to infringe on other nations' rights, Ahmadinejad said, according to Press TV.

Video: Obama signs new Iran sanctions into law

And he warned that "Iran will teach its enemies an unforgettable lesson" if they do not correct their hostile attitudes, Press TV said.

He spoke at a ceremony marking National Industry and Mine Day. The main focus of his speech was that Iran's industrial exports have reached $18 billion in the past four months -- a figure that, Ahmadinejad pointed out, came despite sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network reported.

"Four years ago you sanctioned Iran and our industrial export was $6 billion. How much is it now? It's $18 billion," Ahmadinejad said, according to Press TV. "I have faith in your capabilities; I want to tell them again, do you want to sanction Iran again? I promise you that this $18 billion will be $60 billion by the hands of people sitting here, and it will be a slap in their face."

Press TV said the sanctions "are aimed at exerting additional pressure on Iran, targeting its dependence on imported petroleum products. Tehran, however, has announced that sanctions will put no pressure on the country since it has the ability to meet its energy demands, should the need arise."

In addition, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, made remarks Saturday during a meeting with staffers of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

"The current era is a special one from a political perspective, and the great Iranian nation will undoubtedly pass this difficult time," he said, according to Press TV. He also warned against the "disgraceful lies" by Iran's enemies regarding democracy and human rights.

CNN's Mitra Mobasherat and Katy Byron contributed to this report.