Iran Nuclear NewsIran dismisses sanctions, launches gas project

Iran dismisses sanctions, launches gas project

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ImageReuters: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed international sanctions against Iran as a "childish idea" on Friday as he officially launched a major natural gas project in the Gulf, Iranian media reported.

By Hashem Kalantari

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed international sanctions against Iran as a "childish idea" on Friday as he officially launched a major natural gas project in the Gulf, Iranian media reported.

On Thursday U.S. President Barack Obama said he was extending economic sanctions against Tehran because it continued to pose an "extraordinary threat" to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.

It was a routine extension of punitive measures imposed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1995.

Ahmadinejad said that trying to create obstacles for Iran's development with sanctions was "a childish idea and a big mistake," the official IRNA news agency reported.

"We don't need anyone… We rely on our own abilities," Iran's Press TV quoted him as saying in the southern Gulf port of Assaluyeh. "God willing, the Iranian nation's advancement is gaining speed."

Ahmadinejad described Friday's commissioning of Phases 9 and 10 of the South Pars field, Iran's single biggest natural gas deposit, as a "happy gift" for the Iranian nation, which is also the world's fourth-largest oil producer.

The investment amounted to about $4 billion, media said.

South Korea's LG Engineering Construction Corp and a pair of Iranian energy firms in 2002 won a deal to develop phases 9 and 10, out of 24 phases at South Pars. Iranian media said the two phases would have a daily output of 50 million cubic meters.

WESTERN FIRMS WARY

"This grand achievement happened under conditions in which some in the world with immorality and misbehavior did not fulfill their promises," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"They signed contracts to provide equipment and spare parts but … some of the equipment and spare parts remained aboard ship and were taken back," he said, in an apparent reference to Western firms scaling down their plans for investment in Iran.

Since taking office in January, Obama has talked of engaging Iran on its nuclear work and other issues, breaking with the policy of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

He has also warned of more sanctions if Iran does not stop enriching uranium, which has both military and civilian uses.

Iran has repeatedly ruled out halting such activity, which it says is aimed at generating electricity, and shrugged off the impact of both U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

But analysts say Iran is facing growing economic problems after oil prices plunged about $100 a barrel from a peak of $147 in July as the global economic downturn hit fuel demand.

Tehran has reacted cautiously to Obama's outreach, saying it wants to see real change in U.S. policy after Washington under Bush spearheaded a drive to isolate the Islamic Republic.

Iran sits on the world's second-largest gas reserves after Russia but has been slow to develop exports.

Many Western energy firms have become wary of investing in Iran because of the sanctions. Asian firms have snapped up some projects and are looking at others.

(Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Jonathan Wright)

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