Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Tehran has sufficient cash reserves to withstand a total embargo on its oil sales for two to three years.
His remarks came as the European Union prepares to impose a total embargo on Iranian crude oil from July following a similar move by the United States in a bid to force Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program.
"We must say to them that we have that much saved that even if we didn't sell oil for two to three years, the country would manage easily," Ahmadinejad told the Fars News Agency.
Ahmadinejad also accused Western countries of being solely interested in plunder, Fars reported.
"Whoever wishes to abuse Iran's rights, the young … will punch them in the mouth to the extent that they won't be able to find their way home," he said.
The United States and its allies hope sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors will force Tehran to abandon what they believe to be a push for nuclear weapons.
The P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – are set to resume nuclear talks with Iran in Istanbul on April 14.
Iran insists its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. However, in early March, the head of the IAEA said there were indications that Iran was engaged in the development of nuclear weapons.
"Iran is not telling us everything. That is my impression. We are asking Iran to engage with us proactively, and Iran has a case to answer," said IAEA director Yukiya Amano.
His remarks followed two recent IAEA reports that indicated Iran had sought – and likely continues to seek – nuclear technologies of a military nature.
IAEA experts previously reported Iran's production of 20% enriched uranium is far greater than needed for peaceful purposes. They also note Iran's medical research sector is not sufficiently advanced to justify such production.
However, Ahmadinejad is increasingly out of favor with the power-elite in Tehran, which has sought to distance itself from his inflexible rhetoric vis-a-vis its nuclear program.
In Iran's recent parliamentary elections the faction of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dealt Ahmadinejad's faction a decisive blow, while lawmakers also moved to grill the flagging president on his economic and foreign policy.
Immediately after the elections a key Khamenei advisor signaled Tehran was willing to repudiate Ahmadinejad's hardliner stance and return to negotiations.
Mohammad Javad Larijani said last month that 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," 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 stipulation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.