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Iran calls new EU sanctions inhuman, ineffective

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

TEHRAN, Iran Iran on Tuesday denounced the new European Union sanctions as "inhuman," vowing they will not force any retreat on the country's suspect nuclear program.

The remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast amplify Iran's insistence that it can ride out Western economic pressures aimed at reining in Tehran's uranium enrichment.

The West and its allies fear the process could lead to nuclear weapons development, a charge Iran denies, saying its nuclear ambitions are only for peaceful purposes.

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Nuclear arms aren't the only weapons Iran has been accused of developing.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently mentioned Iran among potential U.S. enemies that are pursuing the capability to launch devastating attacks in cyberspace, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. U.S. officials said a cyberattack against ARAMCO, the world's largest oil company, has been traced to hackers inside Iran.

The 27-nation on bloc Monday banned imports of Iranian natural gas and imposed other restrictions on trade and financial dealings. Previous Western sanctions have targeted Iran's critical oil exports and access to international banking networks.

Mehmanparast told reporters Tuesday the new EU measures will not force Iran to back down from enriching uranium to make nuclear fuel. He called the sanctions "illegal, unwise and inhuman."

"They cannot force the Iranian nation to surrender and withdraw," said Mehmanparast. "This sort of acts will encourage the Iranian nation to continue on its way, strongly."

He said the nuclear issue is merely a pretext since the West had imposed various sanctions for decades on Iran.

"It is pretty clear that Iran's persistence on its independence is the main problem" for the West, he said.

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At a meeting with EU ambassadors in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the European Union for imposing what he called "tough sanctions" against the "greatest threat to peace in our time."

Netanyahu observed Tuesday that while the sanctions were "hitting the Iranian economy hard," they haven't yet halted the Iranian program.

"We will know that they are achieving their goal when the centrifuges stop spinning."

The EU also agreed to prohibit all transactions between EU and Iranian banks unless they were authorized in advance for humanitarian reasons and tightened restrictions on the Central Bank of Iran.

They imposed more export restrictions "notably for graphite, metals, software for industrial purposes, as well as measures related to the shipbuilding industry."

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Earlier this month, retired U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering told CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan that sanctions alone won't stop Iran's nuclear program.

Pickering warned against a U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities without a thorough cost/benefit analysis. With time, he said, a "sensible civilian program" in Iran could be possible.

Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the Iranian Resistance — a group that seeks the Iran's regime's ouster — welcomed the decision to expand sanctions as "an essential step to preclude this regime from acquiring nuclear weapons." She asked the EU to sever all economic and commercial relations with the religious fascism ruling Iran.

An affiliated group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, said it had learned from people inside the country that the Iranian government was using banks' money-changing operations as well as divisions of the National Iranian Oil Company to get around the sanctions against oil exports.