By Samuel Burke, CNN
The tactic of choice to derail Iran’s nuclear program has been "crippling sanctions," imposed by the United States and other Western countries.
Iranian Finance Minister Seyyed Shamseddin Hosseini said that sanctions have driven up prices to some degree, but he downplayed the larger effect. Hosseini spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday.
“I am not saying that they haven't had any impact on our country,” Hosseini said of the sanctions. “But on the other hand, I don't believe that such sanctions have crippled us.”
The Obama administration has painted a completely different picture.
“Few thought that sanctions could have an immediate bite on the Iranian regime,” President Obama declared last year. “They have – slowing the Iranian nuclear program and virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt in 2011.”
The efforts to isolate and penalize Iran by cutting it off from international markets are based on the hope that sanctions will force Iran to come into compliance with U.N. resolutions.
Sectors that depended on foreign imports have been weakened, Hosseini admitted to Amanpour. But he also claimed that some of the negative measures placed on the economy have actually had a positive impact.
“Non-oil exports grew,” Hosseini said. “Our industrial exports grew twenty percent. And in comparison, our imports were reduced by fourteen percent. As such that we met our foreign import requirements by non-oil exports.”
Hosseini maintained his country’s stance that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that the sanctions won’t stop its efforts.
There has been talk of the U.S. and other countries allowing some relief in the sanctions on the gold, silver and precious metals markets.
“This is what our people want,” Hosseini said of the Iranian nuclear program. “This cannot be compromised by a deal for relief, like in transactions of gold or silver.”
The most recent talks between Iran and the six world powers about the Iranian nuclear program took place in city of Almaty, Kazakhstan at the beginning of April.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said these were the most detailed discussions that the two sides had had, with "a real back-and-forward between us," but she also made clear that she was disappointed by the lack of progress made.
“I believe the Almaty talks one and two were quite productive because both sides were able to talk,” Hosseini told Amanpour.
He said that he expects the discussions to continue.