US: Iran lashing out to ‘distract’ from sanctions

White House says ‘defiant acts’ by Islamic Republic show that its leaders are under pressure from international sanctions after Tehran declares advances in nuclear program
Associated Press

The White House says Iran is lashing out at the world to „distract attention” from the damage that international sanctions are having at home.

 

 

Iran is claiming Wednesday that it has achieved two major advances in its program to master production of nuclear fuel, a defiant move in response to increasingly tough Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

 

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Iranstate media also reports steps to cut oil exports to six European countries in retaliation for new European Union sanctions, including a ban on Iranian oil.

 

White House press secretary Jay Carney says such „defiant acts” show that Iran’s leaders are under pressure.

 
אחמדינג'אד מקבל הסברים מהמדענים בכור (צילום: AFP PHOTO / PRESS TV)

Scientists explain new procedure to Ahmadinejad (Photo: AFP)

 

The US also downplayed Iran’s latest announcement of nuclear progress, saying Tehran’s reported advances were „not terribly new and not terribly impressive.”

 

 

„We frankly don’t see a lot new here. This is not big news. In fact it seems to have been hyped,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

 

Also Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said that the „Iranian Ayatollahs regime is in the midst of an arms race and is trying to hit Israeli and Western targets around the world.”

 

He added, „We are committed to staying vigilant and watchful, ready to face any challenge.”

 

 

Earlier on Wednesday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Iran has started using 3,000 new centrifuges at the Natantz reactor. Dressed in a white coat, Ahmadinejad watched scientists load Iran-made iron rods into the reactor. „The age of bullying nations is over,” he declared.

 

„The arrogant powers cannot retain a monopoly on nuclear technology. They tried to stop us by declaring sanctions but failed. We shall continue to pursue our nuclear way,” he said.

 

Maor Buchnik contributed to this report