The head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce has dismissed Washington's move to impose new economic sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Iranian media quoted Mohammad Nahavandian on January 1 as rejecting the U.S. decision as "futile and unjustifiable."
He said sanctions against his country "have raised the cost of trade and economic transactions, but it has not managed to change Iran's political behavior."
On December 31, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law new U.S. sanctions against Iran's central bank and financial sector.
The measures, meant to punish Tehran for its controversial nuclear activities, were contained in a $662 billion defense bill.
The sanctions require foreign companies to make a choice between doing business with Iran's oil and financial sectors and central bank, or the U.S. financial sector.
Under the law, foreign central banks which deal with Iran's central bank on oil transactions could face U.S. restrictions.
In a statement issued after he signed the bill December 31, Obama expressed reservations that the law might interfere with his constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by restricting his dealings with foreign governments.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, while the United States and the European Union have imposed unilateral measures.
Washington and its allies say Iran is trying to build nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian program, which Tehran denies.
In a related development, a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard says talk of blocking the strategic oil route through the Strait Of Hormuz is a discussion of the past.
General Masoud Jazayeri did not elaborate.
However, last week, Iranian Vice President Mohamed Reza Rahimi threatened that Iran could close the Strait if the West imposes sanctions on Iran's oil shipments.
The United States has warned Iran that it would not tolerate the closing of the Strait, through which more than one-third of the world's tanker oil is reported to pass on its way to market.
compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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