John Negroponte (center) testifying in the Senate on January 11 (epa)
January 12, 2007 -- Outgoing U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte has said Iran is capable of weathering shocks to its economy at a time when Washington hopes sanctions will pressure Tehran over its nuclear program.
Negroponte made his assessment in written testimony submitted to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He said Iran has been enjoying record oil revenues and a manageable debt.
The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program after its case was reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has cited obfuscation on the part of Iranian officials.
Washington has frequently alleged that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at making atomic bombs despite Tehran's denials.
Negroponte claimed that Iran's economy is vulnerable to internal pressures brought on by the policies of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
He said inflationary pressures, exacerbated by Ahmadinejad's economic and fiscal measures, are harming Iran's consumer and investment climates and causing employment opportunities to decline.
Negroponte is expected to take up a post as deputy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, if confirmed by the Senate.