Iranian leaders vowed on Thursday to control soaring prices, bring stability to the national currency and create jobs as the nation marked the end of a year of economic crisis fueled by renewed US sanctions.
In a speech marking Nowruz, Iran’s new year and the beginning of spring, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic has successfully resisted the sanctions and called on the government to boost national production to face enemy pressures.
“In the face of severe, and according to them unprecedented, sanctions from America and Europe, the Iranian people showed a strong and powerful reaction both in the field of politics and economy,” Khamenei said in a pre-recorded speech broadcast on state television.
Khamenei said: “The main problem in the country is the economic problem … that is partly rooted in mismanagement.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended his record in a separate message broadcast immediately after Khamenei’s, saying economic problems were primarily caused by US sanctions.
“The new year is a year to boost production and create jobs for our dear young people,” Rouhani said. “The new year is the year to control inflation, bring balance to the foreign currency market and expand friendship with neighbouring countries.”
Nation ‘more cohesive’
Rouhani called on the country’s political factions to end infighting and unite against foreign enemies.
“Some might ask till when will these sanctions and problems go on… these problems began with the oath-breakers and those who have recently reached power in Washington, but the (key to the) end is in our hands,” he said sitting in front of a row of Iranian flags.
“The more we are united, and the more the enemy realizes that with these sanctions our nation becomes more cohesive, the sooner they will despair and regret (sanctioning Iran),” Rouhani said.
He called on all branches of government, as well as the armed forces and Iranians from all walks of life, to put aside differences and share the burden of economic “problems and disorder”.
The US reimposed sanctions on Tehran after President Donald Trump chose last May to abandon Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord, negotiated with five other world powers.
Trump abandoned the deal because he argued it did not address Iran’s expanding regional influence and missile programme.
The sanctions have partly led to a weaker rial in Iran, which has fed into higher inflation.
The rial was trading at 135,000 to the US dollar on the unofficial market on Wednesday, according to foreign exchange websites, three times weaker than a year ago, but off record lows of about 190,000 to the dollar in late September.
Hours earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the US sanctions “unprecedented, inhumane and illegal”, and said Tehran would overcome the “medieval tactics” employed by Washington.
“We rely solely on our own people to overcome any challenges. But we also welcome constructive engagement, including with the expanding array of nations who are equally sick and tired of the bullying of the US,” Zarif said on his Twitter feed.
France, Germany and Britain, who remain committed to the nuclear deal, opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran in January to shield business with Tehran from US sanctions.