Iran’s president said Wednesday the country was facing its toughest economic situation in 40 years, and the United States, not the government, was to blame.
U.S. President Donald Trump last year pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions.
Iran’s currency has fluctuated in value in recent months, making it difficult for ordinary people to make ends meet.
Workers, including truck drivers, farmers and merchants, have since launched sporadic protests against economic hardships, which have occasionally led to confrontations with security forces.
“Today the country is facing the biggest pressure and economic sanctions in the past 40 years,” Hassan Rouhani said on state TV.
“One should not condemn the government or the great Islamic system instead of America - this is the greatest damage that can be done,” he added.
Rouhani spoke at a ceremony at the shrine of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - part of a series of events leading up to the 40th anniversary of the Feb. 11 revolution.
“America has not been an oath-breaker only to us, but also to Europe, China, NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he said.
The other parties to the Iran nuclear deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia along with the European Union - have insisted it remains in force and is working.
Rouhani took another jab at opponents who have criticized Iranian diplomats’ lack of foresight over not predicting the U.S. withdrawal.
“No agreement is based on whether the other party remains, but the main basis is the country’s interests,” he said.
He ended his speech by calling for “unity,” saying Khomeini’s main concern was not foreign forces but domestic “discord.”
Hardliners have repeatedly hammered the 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers since the early stages of negotiations, calling it a fool’s errand and a deception.
They contend that Iran has gained nothing from the agreement despite complying with its restrictions on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, intensifying their criticism after Washington withdrew from the treaty last year.
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