Skip to main content

Iran VP admits US pressure hitting economy hard

A top Iranian official has admitted that US pressure is dramatically slowing down his country's economy at a time when even "allies" refuse to purchase Iranian crude.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri leaves the plane upon his arrival at Damascus international airport in Damascus, Syria January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RC183DC91670

In a series of remarks rarely heard from Iran's political elites, First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri lamented Washington's onerous sanctions and how they are tightening the noose around Iran's economy. "The Americans have in the true sense blocked the key bottlenecks of our country's economy," Jahangiri told an exports conference in Tehran Dec. 2.

"Even allies fear buying Iranian oil" due to US pressure, he said, which has forced Iran to get its crude shipped out through unconventional ways. The Reformist politician, however, took pride in the fact that despite all the roads closed off, Iran has managed "to stand on its own feet."

After withdrawing last May from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the administration of US President Donald Trump has been squeezing the Iranian economy through an unabated "maximum pressure" campaign, which seeks to shut off Iranian oil exports and push Tehran into renegotiating the "bad" deal.

Unsurprisingly, Jahangiri's comments did not go unanswered by political rivals at home. Hard-liners took aim at the vice president for projecting a "bleak" image from Iran and giving Washington the green light to press ahead with further sanctions.

As Jahangiri was painting a picture of "the worst conditions" Iranians have been facing since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, other authorities were busy exhausting diplomatic channels to ease the economic and political pressure. Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi was in Tehran discussing with several Iranian officials "regional stability," including the Hormuz Peace Initiative, a plan unveiled by President Hassan Rouhani during his address to the UN General Assembly in September.

Alawi's trip to Tehran, his third in the past nine months, came only one week after he met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. The veteran Omani diplomat has been actively engaged in what is seen as mediation efforts to resolve the US-Iran difference over the JCPOA and bridge the wider gaps between the two archenemies.

Nonetheless, Iran's hard-liners downplayed the visit as just one of several last-minute efforts to revive the fragile nuclear deal. Javan, an outlet affiliated with the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, described the JCPOA as a vehicle that has "run out of gas."

Iran's ongoing diplomacy with the JCPOA's remaining European signatories has failed to draw concrete measures on their part toward the economic relief Tehran is hoping to gain from the accord. In its latest reaction, Iran's Foreign Ministry warned that if talks with the Europeans continue to bear no fruit, Tehran will commit further breaches, a phased process that has passed four stages since May.

After meeting with his Omani counterpart, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter for a fresh attack on the Europeans, whom he accused of offering "hollow promises" and failing "Iranian kids" by denying them the necessary medicine to "cover their wounds."

The Iranian top diplomat's tweet was his first after an unusual three-week-long silence on the social media platform he had been actively using for public diplomacy, and only days after deadly unrest gripped Iranian streets following a government-imposed hike in gasoline prices. In the absence of an official investigation and after internet connectivity was restored following a countrywide blackout, details are now dribbling out from anonymous witnesses. According to an updated Amnesty International report, at least 208 people, among them teenagers, died in the unprecedented crackdown.

Against such a backdrop, Zarif's concern for "Iranian kids" drew an outburst of furious comments from hundreds of Iranian users, who uploaded below his post footage of scuffles between rock-throwing protesters and armed officers as well as photos of bleeding young men believed to have been shot — some in close range — by security forces.

"Last time 'I checked,' it was your regime killing the innocent Iranians on the streets," one user tweeted back at Zarif, borrowing from the Iranian foreign minister's characteristic sarcasm.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

Text Alerts - Be the first to get breaking news, exclusives, and PRO content.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial