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Rouhani Fiercely Defends His Record, Blames 'Crazy Trump' For Iran's Vows

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told his cabinet on Wednesday that if “crazy Trump” had not conducted “economic terrorism” against the Islamic Republic, the government could have secured $60 billion credit from international markets to invest in the country.

In a long speech, Rouhani fiercely tried to defend the record of his outgoing government against unrelenting criticism by hardliners who have accused him of making a bad nuclear deal and then mismanaging the economy.

Rouhani said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA), as the 2015 nuclear deal is called, was indispensable, referring to crushing international sanctions backed by the UN Security Council that were lifted after the nuclear agreement was signed. In response to the domestic critics of the deal, the outgoing president said, “If there was no JCPOA, the same situation and the same path [sanctions] would have continued. Imagine what was our situation in 2013-2014.”

Former president Donald Trump called the Obama-era agreement a “disaster”, that would allow Iran to make a nuclear bomb in a not-so-distant future and by removing previous international sanctions that presumably gave Tehran financial resources to pursue its expansionist policy in the region.

Rouhani alluded to his government preparing documents to outline the history of the past eight years and said that one such document will show that if “an individual, with psychiatric illness” had not become president in the United States, the JCPOA would have remained in place, and it would not be hard to imagine the economic consequences compared with now. He enumerated Iran’s economic problems and claimed that inflation, unemployment and growth all would have been very different.

Although US sanctions did great damage to Iran’s economy in the past three years, indicators have shown that its closed economic system had anemic growth in the past 42 years, since the establishment of the Islamic government. While a fast-growing population required a minimum of five percent growth annually, the 40-year average is below three percent. The economy is centralized and often mismanaged by government bureaucracy influenced by political appointments. Essentially, what kept Iran’s economy going, was oil exports that financed more than 50 percent of the budget. As soon as Trump’s sanctions reduced oil sales, the country was forced to print money and went into high inflation.

However, Rouhani bitterly complained that during the current election campaign “no one mentioned Trump” and compared him with Saddam Hussein who attacked Iran in 1980, in what the Islamic Republic calls “the imposed war”. Rouhani said Trump’s war also an imposed war, implying that his opponents blame him instead of the former US president.

While mentioning the possibility for Iran to have borrowed $60 billion from international markets, Rouhani did not mention that hardliners have stopped key financial reforms demanded by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has put Iran on its blacklist for not having safeguards against money laundering and financing of terrorism. Even if US sanctions are lifted, Iran cannot have normal banking relations with the rest of the world as long as it does satisfy FATF standards, let alone borrowing billions of dollars.


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