President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday denounced European countries that are tightening sanctions on Iran as puppets of a U.S. master and said he was surprised at their moves to isolate Tehran’s central bank.
“We have had no relations with America for the past 32 years so we had no relationship with them yesterday and won’t have tomorrow,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
“But we are surprised by these European puppets, who immediately repeat whatever their master says like impotent servants.”
The United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors on Monday and the European Union followed suit the next day in a concerted effort to pressure Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
Britain banned all transactions with the Central Bank of Iran; France and the Netherlands have called for similar action. The move has rattled politicians in Iran where some lawmakers have called for the expulsion of the British ambassador.
“They have said ‘we should cut relations with the central bank and block the money of the Iranian people’,” Ahmadinejad said, accusing Western countries of wanting to plunder Iranian bank accounts abroad to ease their own economic crises.
“The slightest move to grab Iranian assets is akin to a great heist − and Iran will treat the person responsible as a thief,” he told a large crowd gathered at an outdoor venue near Tehran.
Turning to U.S. sanctions, which declare the whole of Iran’s financial sector “of primary money-laundering concern”, Ahmadinejad said: “They accuse the Iranian nation of money laundering. We have no need to launder money.”
The latest sanctions were prompted by a U.N. nuclear watchdog report that suggested Iran has worked on an atomic bomb design. Tehran maintains its nuclear work is entirely peaceful and said the report was based on false Western intelligence.
Ahmadinejad reiterated that, contrary to Western claims, Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons, but added that Iran will not back down from its nuclear ambitions.
“They ask us to prove that we do not have an atomic bomb... How can we prove something that does not exist? It is as if someone asks another person to prove that he is healthy... Sickness is provable,” he said.