TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday that more support for domestic industrial production can counter Western sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program.
The statement by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei marking the Iranian new year is the latest in a series of displays of defiance by the country's senior leadership against the pressures — ranging from sanctions to the option of future military strikes — placed on Iran by the U.S. and the West.
IRNA agency quoted Khamenei as saying that Iran can withstand the economic pressures, which include blocking many Iranian banks from the network that handles most international banking transfers.
Iran has faced decades of sanctions. The latest sanctions placed in recent months are far tougher however than previous ones and target Iran's banking sector and critical oil exports that provide some $75 billion, some 80 percent of the country's foreign revenue.
"If the Iranian nation resorts to its determination, awareness and planning it will overcome challenges that the enemy has provided," said Khamenei, who has the final say on all matter of state.
He said that if Iran's domestic economy flourishes, the country's enemies would lose hope and their "plotting" would come to an end.
The Iranian leader said government should support industry and agriculture. Investors and workers should boost production and consumers should choose domestic products rather than imported ones.
The country imports nearly $50 billion worth of machinery, cars, home appliances, and food including fruit, meat and rice.
The new sanctions were put into place by the U.S. and the EU after Iran refused to stop nuclear activities that the West suspects are aimed at developing weapons technology.
Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program have only geared toward peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.
Khamenei lauded last year's Arab Spring uprisings, which have been followed by electoral successes by Islamist political parties.
He said that the uprisings "have encircled the Zionist regime, Israel, the number one enemy of the Islamic and Iranian nation."
Israel, Iran's archenemy, have not ruled out military option against Iran's nuclear facilities.