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 an economic crisis fueled by renewed US sanctions.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a new year speech that the Islamic Republic successfully resisted the US 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.”
Rouhani called on the country’s political factions to end infighting and unite against foreign enemies.
The United States reimposed sanctions on Tehran after US President Donald Trump chose last May to abandon Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord, negotiated with five other world powers.
Trump abandoned the accord because he argued it did not address Iran’s expanding regional influence and missile program.
The sanctions have partly led to a weaker rial currency in Iran that has fed into higher inflation.
The rial was trading at 135,000 per 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 per 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.
Many in Iran & across the globe are tonight celebrating #Nowruz, the New Year. Nowruz means renewal: not only of nature, but of our thoughts, deeds, and— importantly—hope for a brighter future.
My thoughts on this happy occasion: https://t.co/K53T75xOS6
A Happy New Year to all. pic.twitter.com/GHoiP9BMBs
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 20, 2019
France, Germany and Britain, which remain committed to the nuclear deal, opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran in January to shield business with Tehran against the US sanctions.