President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brushed off the threat posed to the Iranian economy by tighter sanctions, including a European oil embargo, even as he demanded the resumption of talks on its nuclear ambitions.
Iran's leader said yesterday that sanctions would not damage an economy that has reduced significantly its exposure to European trade in favour of Asian trade.
Sanctions measures adopted by the EU earlier this week raised the prospect that Iran would lose some of its main markets for oil exports.
European foreign ministers embraced the embargo to increase pressure on Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear programme. But the Iranian leader claimed the measure would only hurt the European economy.
"There was a time when 90pc of our trade was with the Europeans. It has now dropped to 10pc. Cut it (trade) and let's see who will incur the loss," he said.
The comments strengthened fears that Iran would unilaterally halt oil sales to Europe, upending a compromise struck in Brussels that allowed Greece and Spain and other exposed economies to continue taking Iranian supplies for six months.
A bill to be brought before parliament on Sunday would ban the sale of oil to Europe.
Mr Ahmadinejad painted Iran as the wronged party in the dispute, claiming it was open to talks with Europeans. (©Daily Telegraph, London)