Rouhani reshuffles economic team, says US isolated against Iran

Published: Updated:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the United States was isolated among its traditional allies in its confrontation with Iran, and that even Europe was siding with Tehran against the reimposition of US sanctions.

Rouhani was speaking at the start of a parliament session to discuss a cabinet reshuffle which includes a proposed new economy minister, academic Farhad Dejpasand, who is widely seen as a technocrat, and three other economy-linked ministers.

“It does not happen often that the US makes a decision and its traditional allies abandon it,” Rouhani told parliament in a speech carried live on state television.

Washington reintroduced sanctions against Iran’s currency trade, metals and auto sectors in August after it pulled out from a multinational 2015 deal that lifted sanctions in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear program.

European countries have criticized the US withdrawal from the accord and have been putting together a package of economic measures to help offset the impact of US pressures on Tehran’s economy.

US curbs on Iran’s vital oil exports are set to come into force on Nov. 4.

“Our main enemy, America, faces us with a drawn sword and we have to fight it and we have to unite. Regardless of factions ... we are all part of the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said, urging MPs to vote for his proposed ministers.

“Part of our economic problems has to do with the (high) rate of exchange of hard currencies, but our foreign exchange reserves are better than in any of the past five years,” he said, without giving figures.

The proposed cabinet changes come as the government faces intense pressure over the economic instability mostly caused by the US sanctions.

The economy has markedly deteriorated in the past year, suffering rising inflation and unemployment, a 70-percent fall in the value of the rial currency so far this year and state corruption.

“A year ago no one would have believed ... that Europe would stand with Iran and against America,” Rouhani said.

“Russia, China, India, the European Union, and some African and Latin American countries are our friends. We have to work with them and attract investments,” he added.