Facing growing criticism as pressure mounts to deliver tangible results from the lifting of sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani defended the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers in an April 19 speech.
“When the administration took over, Islamophobia and Iranphobia were at a peak and the country was facing sanctions,” Rouhani said, reminding the crowd the conditions in Iran when he took over from hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Inflation, economic downturn, unemployment and lack of stability in the markets created numerous doubts in the public about the future of the country and the economy.”
To those who have criticized the nuclear deal, Rouhani said, “It is interesting to me that some want to say that the Iranian nation and the negotiators were not victorious and it was the Americans and Zionists who were victorious.” He said that the nuclear deal has had many achievements, saying that no one could have imagined that all the United Nations Security Council resolutions against Iran would at once be “thrown into the trash bin of history.”
Indirectly addressing criticism from the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, Rouhani said, “For those who question what the nuclear deal has achieved, it must be said that the nuclear deal recorded a political and legal honor for the history of Iran.” On April 5, Jafari had criticized Rouhani for trying to use the momentum of the nuclear deal to implement other domestic and international policies, asking, “What result has the deal had that we would accept other deals?”
In one of his most blunt assessments of Iran’s economic situation before the nuclear deal, Rouhani said, “The sale of Iran’s oil was cut in half [of pre-sanctions levels], the traffic to Iran’s ports was essentially sanctioned, Iranian banks had no links to the world's banks, conditions were such that we had returned to the 19th century, all the transactions were conducted through money exchange houses and the banking and insurance channels were closed to us.”
Rouhani said that because of sanctions, the export of Iran’s oil had fallen to 1 million barrels a day, but that now it exceeds 2 million barrels a day. The managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, Rokneddin Javadi, also said April 19 that in June Iran's oil production will reach pre-sanctions levels.
Rouhani asked for patience in seeing the economic results of the nuclear deal, saying, “Reconstruction and modernization after ruin takes time. Today the obstacles for entrepreneurs and investors have been resolved but … only three months have passed since the implementation of the nuclear deal, but some people think it’s been 30 years.”
He also criticized media attacking him over the nuclear deal, referring to them as “chaos and anarchy media” and saying, “Immoral attacks by some media are below the dignity of the Iranian nation.” On the partisan fighting over the deal, Rouhani said, “There is nothing wrong with competition during the elections because elections are the time for slogans and competition, but now the competition must be put aside, today is the time for the implementation of the deal and using its opportunity.”
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