Iran says ready for nuclear flexibility

Associated Press Modified: October 13, 2012 at 11:46 am •  Published: October 13, 2012
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Tehran for its part has announced the discovery of computer viruses at nuclear, industrial and government sites. It blames the West and Israel. Israel has said little to deflect suspicion that it tries to infect some Iranian systems.

Iranian leaders have been consistently defiant, announcing measures they say the Islamic Republic is taking to evade sanctions, defeat cyberattacks, and prepare to repulse or retaliate for a military strike.

"Many politicians ... in the U.S., Britain and other countries ... employed all their might and designs with the assumption they could bring the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation to its knees. They are gone and even their names are forgotten but the Iranian nation is present by the grace of God," Khamenei said.

Iranian leaders have also argued that the country can always find customers for its oil and that the West is hurting itself, more than Iran, by cutting itself off from Iranian crude exports. Khamenei said Wednesday that European countries are "foolish" to support sanctions against Tehran, telling them they are sacrificing themselves for the sake of the United States.

But they also acknowledge that sanctions are taking a bite.

Iran's currency — already in steady decline for months — lost nearly 40 percent of its value earlier this month. It reached an all-time low of 35,500 to the dollar, down from 24,000 rials days earlier and close to 10,000 rials as recently as early 2011. It's now fluctuating between 29,000 rials to 32,000 rials in the open market. The decline set off limited, one-day protests in Tehran's market district.

The plummet of the rial was blamed on a combination of Iranian government mismanagement and the bite from tighter sanctions. Both measures have reduced the amount of foreign currency coming into the country.

Khamenei urged the nation to consume Iranian products and shun foreign goods to support domestic production.

"We should choose what we consume from among our own products. That some are always after foreign brands and names is wrong," he said. "Domestic consumption increases domestic production. When domestic production is increased, it will tackle unemployment and reduces inflation. These are all connected to each other."