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BEIJING - The United States imposed a series of crippling economic sanctions on Iran to undermine Tehran's alleged nuclear bid, but the Islamic republic continues to defy US pressure.
The United States has so far frozen all Iranian assets in US financial facilities, and banned foreign companies that traded with the Iranian Central Bank from the US financial market.
The sanctions, which have received positive responses from the EU and the Gulf states, have sent commodity prices soaring and the rial, Iran's currency, tumbling against the greenback.
With the West trying to tighten the noose with sanctions, Tehran vowed to fight back and denied that the sanctions are hurting the Iranian economy.
Iran's Majlis (parliament) is ready to approve a bill aimed at stopping oil exports to member states of the EU in response to their bid to embargo Iran's oil exports, local TV reported Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the sanctions are old news and have been going on for 30 years.
"The practical outcome of such measures (of sanctioning Iran) is the determination of the Iranian nation in implementing their outstanding goals in the framework of national interests and rights," he said.
But his tough words cannot hide the fact that the sanctions are indeed taking their toll on the country's economy.
Food and living costs have soared in Iran, and imported goods, such as electronic devices, have more than doubled in price from a year before.
With the depreciation of the rial and its limited reserve of hard currencies, Tehran is forced to barter, trading gold and oil with international traders, to maintain a steady food supply in the country.
Iran is also seeking new buyers for its oil to replace the EU, South Korea and Japan, all of which have moved to embargo Iranian oil exports.
Curbing Tehran's controversial nuclear program may not be the only purpose behind the US sanctions.
With his Israeli counterpart making hawkish comments, and the presidential election coming up in November, US President Barack Obama may also be using the sanctions to appease Israel as well as ward off criticism at home calling for harsher measures against Iran.
Robin Wright, a Middle East expert from the US Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Washington is telling Israel not to attack Iran since the stinging effect of sanctions have already kicked in.
Neither the Obama administration nor the US military want to see the United States dragged into yet another war only months after it concluded a decade-long campaign in Iraq last year, Wright said.
Analysts believed the stalemate around the Persian Gulf may persist if Tehran maintains its hardline stance against the West.
The West and Israel ultimately seek to eliminate the possibility of Tehran gaining nuclear weapons, and will not stop until they achieve that goal.
Therefore a defiant Tehran will no doubt invite harsher sanctions especially from Israel, which sees an Iran in possession of a nuclear weapon as a great security threat.
Economic sanctions will weaken and divide the Iranians, forcing some to compromise, but unremitting military threats are counterproductive as they will lead to a more united and defiant Iran, an analyst from the American Academy of Diplomacy said.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team is scheduled to visit Iran on February 21, after talks between the UN nuclear watchdog and Tehran at the end of January were seen as positive.
Tensions between the Islamic state and the West will ease if Tehran is willing to make concessions on the issue. Yet Iran's belief that it has the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes is in conflict with the West's goal of forcing it to drop its uranium enrichment program, dimming chances that the deadlock will be broken any time soon.