Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday said Iran will succeed in withstanding pressure and economic sanctions, while Israel is "besieged."
His remarks came after Iranian banks were excluded from the SWIFT international financial transfer networks – only the latest in a series of sanctions on Iran's oil and banking industries that have consistently narrowed avenues of purchase and surety for Tehran's exportable crude oil.
"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," Khamenei said.
"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."
Instead of addressing Iran's plummeting currency and dwindling pool of consumers for its exportable crude oil, Khamenei claimed it was Israel and the West who were facing difficulty.
"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
Khamenei's remarks come as Iran prepares to enter renewed nuclear talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany following recent parliamentary polls in which the Ayatollah's faction scored big gains.
Last week, Mohammad Javad Larijani – a key Khamenei advisor – said the West should accept Iran's "peaceful nuclear program," sell Iran 20 percent enriched uranium, and provide the customary assistance nuclear nations provide to those building nuclear power plants.
In return for cooperation from the West, Iran would offer "full transparency" and “permanent human monitoring” of its nuclear facilities, Larijani said.
He did not say Iran would halt uranium enrichment – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avoid military strikes – but observers say the stiputation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.
Analysts say the move signals a desire by Tehran to distance itself from the economic and foreign policies of its increasingly out-of-favor and marginalized president – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.