Last updated: 31 July, 2012

Iran central bank starts sanctions cell

Iran’s central bank has established a special cell to fight back against Western economic sanctions that the institution’s chief described as “no less than military war,” the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

“We have established a headquarters in the central bank, which meets on a daily basis” and whose task is “to manage the sanctions,” central bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani was quoted as saying.

“In times of sanctions, we need to carry out asymmetrical economic warfare, which we have begun … or else we would face difficulties and obstacles,” he said.

He did not provide any details on the cell or its strategies.

Bahmani added that “all of our banks and the Central Bank are currently under sanctions, but we are doing our work.”

Iran is increasingly feeling the effects of US and EU sanctions on its economy that have been ratcheted up since the beginning of July. The US sanctions target financial transactions worldwide involving Iran’s central bank.

The measures are hurting Iran’s all-important oil exports, according to the International Energy Agency, which sees crude sales dropping 40 percent.

The leaders of the Islamic republic are starting to acknowledge some economic pain, but say they can withstand the pressure and in no way will they yield to Western demands that they roll back their disputed nuclear programme.

The United States and its European allies suspect Tehran’s nuclear activities are aimed at reaching a “break-out” level to put Iran within reach of making atomic bombs.

But Tehran denies its programme is for anything other than civilian uses.