In an attempt to resist crippling US trade embargoes, Iran’s president said on Sunday his country will depend less on oil revenue next year. Iran is in the grip of an economic crisis. The US re-imposed sanctions that block Iran from selling its crude oil abroad. “The budget sends a message to the world that despite the sanctions, we will manage the country,” President Hassan Rouhani told the opening session of Parliament.
The proposed budget will counter “maximum pressure and sanctions” by the US, he said. Rouhani added that Iran will also benefit from a USD 5 billion loan from Russia that’s being finalized.
He said the US and Israel will remain “hopeless” despite their goal of weakening Iran through sanctions.
In his speech, Rouhani only touched on a few areas of the draft budget for the financial year starting late March 2020, which must be scrutinised and voted on by parliament. “All our efforts are geared towards reducing these hardships to some extent so it can be more tolerable,” he told deputies.
“I deem it necessary here to tell the honourable representatives that the criteria of our budget is still based on maximum pressure and continuation of America’s sanctions,” he said.
Iran’s economic woes in part fueled the anger seen in widespread protests last month that Iranian security forces violently put down. Amnesty International says the unrest killed over 200 people. Iran has not given any nationwide death toll so far.
Iran’s economy has primarily been battered since the country has been locked in a standoff with the United States and its Gulf Arab allies after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal that gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran’s defence ministry.