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Iranian President Calls Energy Sanctions 'Ridiculous'

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has dismissed Western sanctions on Iran's oil sector as "ridiculous."

Ahmadinejad's comments on July 31 came a day after the U.S. Congress backed a new set of financial and economic sanctions against the Islamic republic aimed at derailing Tehran's suspected push for nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad, speaking at the opening of a new fuel-making unit at a Tehran oil refinery, said Iran should sell more refined oil products to counter sanctions.

The European Union -- which once accounted for around 18 percent of Iran's oil exports -- stopped all contracts with Tehran on July 1.

Washington is also pressuring Asian countries like India and South Korea to stop importing Iranian oil.

On July 30, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged international sanctions have yet to force Iran to halt its nuclear development.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters