Iran has been able to endure a Western campaign of pressure and economic sanctions, the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, adding that a recent upheaval across the Middle East had left Israel "besieged."
On Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz welcomed the exclusion of Iranian banks from the SWIFT international financial transfer networks, saying the decision dealt "a tough blow to Iran's economy" and "makes the import and export of oil very difficult."
"This thing can cause the collapse of the Iranian economy. Is it enough? I don't know. Is it significant and will it affect their endurance? Without a doubt it is a very dramatic step," he said.
All Iranian banks that were already subject to a freeze on their EU-held assets will be affected, including the central bank and several commercial lenders.
In a televised speech by Khamenei, delivered on Tuesday, and cited by the Mehr news agency, on the occasion of the Persian new year, he indicated that Iran was successful in withstanding international pressure. "In spite of all the propaganda and in spite of all the hostile and malevolent attacks, last year, the Iranian people managed to show and prove their presence on the scene, their dynamism and their preparedness in different scientific, social, political, and economic arenas with all their heart," he said.
"Thankfully, in spite of all the hardships, we made great achievements last year," Khamenei added, saying that "with intelligent moves, the Iranian nation… managed to confront these sanctions and their efforts were successful to a large extent in countering the effect of these sanctions and the enemy’s move."
The Iranian Supreme Leader added, however, that those he said wished harm against Iran were encountering problems of their own, saying that recent political upheavals in the Middle East were hampering western "malevolent goals."
"The constitutions that were ratified in certain countries were based on Islam. The archenemy of the Islamic ummah [nation] and the Iranian nation - namely the Zionist regime - was besieged," Khamenei said
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