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Iran Calls U.S. Sanctions "Childish"

(AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)
Iran has dismissed President Obama's decision to renew economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic as "childish," and a "grave blunder".

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave his reaction Friday at a ceremony to inaugurate work on the next phases in the development of a massive natural gas field in the country's south, reports CBS News' Leily Lankarani.

The president said the U.S., "thought that with childish and ugly behavior they could stop a great nation and its capable experts from moving towards accomplishment."

On Thursday, Mr. Obama officially renewed economic sanctions against Iran which were enacted by then-President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

Ahmadinejad's defiance came, symbolically, as he inaugurated phases nine and 10 of the South Pars gas development in Asaluyeh, southern Iran.

He claimed it was actually the West's strict sanctions against his country which have motivated Iran to develop its energy technology — including nuclear energy advances. America and its allies suspect Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, though Tehran insists they just want to generate electricity.

Ahmadinejad dubbed the launch of phases nine and 10 at South Pars as a "National Feast of Self-confidence, Innovation and Flourishment," reports Lankarani.

He promised Iranians that their pride should be great as, "the huge task was done under conditions when certain people around the world refused to carry out their duties and promises, showing bad-temperedness and misbehavior."

That comment was an undisguised jab at the French.

Iran dumped French gas company Total earlier this week as its partner in work on phase 11 of the South Pars project, accusing the energy giant of dragging its heels on the contract due to pressure from Washington (via the French government).

Seifollah Jashnsaz, chief of the National Iranian Oil Company, said Wednesday that Total "has procrastinated in commissioning this national project," according to Iran's official IRNA news agency.

"On the basis of coordination with Total officials, another partner will join Phase 11 of the South Pars gas field and Total's leadership share will be transferred," IRNA quoted Jashnsaz as saying.

But the Iranians have not yet said who will take Total's place in getting the South Pars project wrapped up. It's scheduled to go online in 2014.

The Associated Press reports that companies in both China and Russia have been seeking to further their investment in Iranian natural gas production (Iran has the 2nd larges gas reserves in the world, behind Russia), but neither of those countries have the technological prowess to completely fill Total's role on the complicated project.

In addition to the technical issues, both China and Russia will be under intense pressure from the Obama administration to tighten the squeeze on Iran.

Ahmadinejad, ever the optimist, said Friday: "Of course, we believe the Iranian nation can tread the path of progress under God's mercy."

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