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Iran says EU oil embargo "strongest" sanctions yet

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 file photo, Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, right, accompanies President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his departure ceremony as he leaves Tehran's Mehrabad airport for Copenhagen to attend the U.N. Climate Summit. Iran has stored up imported goods and hard currency for a "battle" against EU sanctions targeting the country's vital oil sector that went into effect Sunday, officials said. Rahimi said the country has stockpiled necessities to reduce the impact of the embargo hitting the oil and banking sectors. "Today, we are facing the heaviest of sanctions and we ask people to help officials in this battle," Rahimi was quoted by state television's website as saying at a religious conference. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's president says the new EU embargo on Iranian oil is "the strongest" yet imposed on the country.

The comments Tuesday are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first on the 27-member bloc's ban on the purchase of Iranian oil since the measures took effect Sunday.

State TV also quoted Ahmadinejad as saying Iran should use the ban "as an opportunity to wean the country's budget off its dependence on oil revenues."

Iran relies on oil exports for about 80 percent of its foreign revenues.

The EU sanctions are the latest of several rounds of Western measures meant to pressure Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran aims to develop atomic weapons.

Iran insists its program is solely for peaceful purposes, such as energy and producing medical isotopes.