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Iran must alter strategy to counter sanctions: Ahmadinejad
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Jan 16, 2013


Swedish man on trial for breaking Iran sanctions
Stockholm, Sweden (AFP) Jan 16, 2013 - A man went on trial in the southern Swedish town of Lund on Wednesday for breaking international sanctions against Iran, after he tried to send equipment out of the country that could be used for uranium enrichment.

Shabab Ghasri, a 31-year-old Swede of Iranian origin, is charged with trying to sell advanced valves to Iran through his company.

"He doesn't consider himself guilty of having committed a crime," prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnstroem said.

Ghasri is alleged to have planned to circumvent international sanctions against Iran by first sending the equipment to Dubai.

The number of valves deemed to be in breach of international sanctions had been reduced from 11 in the original indictment to two, Qvarnstroem said.

Analysts have said that although it is technically possible to use the non-corrosive valves in the oil and gas industry, they are of unnecessarily high quality to be used for anything but uranium enrichment.

The shipment was discovered by Swedish customs officials in 2011.

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful but many in the international community suspect its real aim is to develop nuclear weapons.

The country's economy is struggling to cope with punitive measures adopted by the US and the EU targeting its vital oil income and access to global financial systems.

Iran must fundamentally tailor its economy to overcome Western sanctions since Tehran's current approach is a losing strategy, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.

"Continuation of the current trend of defending against West's (economic) offensive ... is damaging," Ahmadinejad said in a speech before the parliament.

"He who attacks will always end up winning and one that has to defend always ends up losing something."

His remarks come as Iranian officials have for months called on the government to establish a front against what they say is an "economic war" targeting Iran's vital oil income and access to global financial systems.

Iran "must make a fundamental transformation of its economy to use its national capacity to circumvent the sanctions," Ahmadinejad said.

He explained that one of the main solution would be to "ultimately decide to once and for all cut the government's dependence on oil revenues," warning that it would create "pressure as the result."

Iran lost a substantial part of its oil revenues in 2012 due to sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear programme, Iranian officials have said.

Estimated at around five billion dollars per month according to experts, the loss in oil revenues has led to a contraction of the 2013/2014 budget being prepared by the government, according to some MPs.

The sanctions have also had a role in the collapse of the Iranian currency and thus soaring prices, exerting "pressure on a large part of the people," Ahmadinejad said.

He also defended plans to go ahead with implementing his much touted scheme of cutting subsidies on food and energy and pay stipends to the population, which began in 2010.

"One of the best solutions to ensure stable economic growth and to circumvent sanctions is the subsidy cut plan," Ahmadinejad said of the scheme which has garnered criticism at home for alleged hike in inflation.

The second phase of the plan is being blocked by the parliament.

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