Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in his New Year speech on March 21 touched upon important issues and challenges the nation faces.
In his address to Iranians, Ayatollah Khamenei explained why he designated the new Iranian calendar year as the year of “Production: Support and the Elimination of Obstacles.”
He said that although last year’s slogan, which was “Upturn in Domestic Production”, was not achieved in full, the goal was relatively realized as production of various kinds of essential goods produced in the country really increased.
The Leader stressed that one of the most important steps to be taken for the promotion of domestic production was removal of the existing hurdles to production, including banking obstacles, while the fight against corruption, which he described as “a very important issue”, must continue.
Ayatollah Khamenei further noted that in addition to the above steps, measures must be taken to boost people’s purchasing power, so they would be able to buy domestic productions, and cut the hands of middlemen who raise price of various products for their own benefit.
He mentioned powerful anti-corruption management as a major factor to pave the way for domestic economic boom.
The Leader then quoted international experts and reports released by international economic organizations, including the World Bank, as saying that despite all difficulties, the Iranian economy ranks 18th among world economies and if a number of obstacles are removed, it could even rank 12th.
Ayatollah Khamenei added that Iran enjoys huge territorial and human resource capacities by relying on which the country would be able to achieve its deserved standing among global economies, “in the event of correct economic planning and powerful management.”
Sanctions akin to criminal acts
The Leader stated that sanctions and economic blockade imposed on various countries by certain world powers are criminal acts, which have nothing to do with diplomacy and real politics.
Sanctions that prevent import of drugs, foods, and medical supplies are really a crime, which can only be committed by some powers, especially the United States, which has killed thousands of people in a single day, he said.
“Although the US economic sanctions were a crime against the Iranian nation, they caused Iran to reduce dependence on other countries,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, emphasizing that the Iranian youth have already managed to turn sanctions into an opportunity, by taking steps and producing needed goods inside the country.
“Sanctions turned into a lesson for us as they prompted us to find a way to thwart the impact of economic bans,” the Leader said.
He also advised the current and future state officials not to link the country’s economic problems to removal of US sanctions, adding that they "should not leave the country’s economy in limbo awaiting decisions to be made by others".
“Suppose that sanctions will remain in place, and plan the country’s economy on the basis [of the assumption] that sanctions will remain and it is possible to make such a plan,” Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized.
The Leader noted that one of the problems nagging the Iranian economy in the past couple of years was making economic planning conditional on lifting of sanctions or attracting foreign investment, which has kept the country’s economy in a state of confusion.
Warning on election plot
Elsewhere in his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei warned that intelligence services of the United States and Israel have been plotting to undermine the upcoming presidential election in Iran due to be held in June and reduce its vibrancy.
“From a domestic viewpoint, holding election serve to renovate the country. People enter the arena and the country’s executive body is renovated, which is very important.... From a foreign viewpoint, holding election and people’s turnout shows [the country’s] power. People’s participation will boost the country’s power and election symbolizes the people’s presence [in the political arena],” the he said.
The Leader said enemies are leveling accusations against officials in charge of holding the election and also the Constitutional Council while making efforts to discourage the Iranian nation, adding that they are taking advantage of the cyberspace to achieve their goals.
“It is no cause of honor [for us] to leave the cyberspace to enemies. All countries take measures to manage the cyberspace, but we take honor in having let it loose! The enemy takes advantage of this [virtual] space to reduce people’s participation in elections through psychological methods,” Ayatollah Khamenei noted.
“The cyberspace must be managed. There is no doubt that this possibility must be used by people and it brings freedom to people. It is also very good. However, this means must not be made available to the enemy to hatch plots against the country and against the nation.”
Lifting of US sanctions
Ayatollah Khamenei further noted that the United States must first lift all sanctions it has imposed on Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal before the Islamic Republic would return to full compliance with its commitments under the accord.
Reflecting on the current standoff between Iran and the US over the implementation of a nuclear deal clinched by Iran and six world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Leader emphasized that the so-called “maximum pressure” policy adopted by the former US administration of president Donald Trump toward Iran after leaving the JCPOA has totally failed.
He stated that Iran’s policy for interaction with other parties to the JCPOA has been announced clearly and Tehran will never give up that policy, because there is consensus on it inside the country.
“Americans must lift all sanctions first and then we will verify and if they are truly lifted, then we will return to our [JCPOA] commitments without any problem. We cannot trust the Americans’ promise,” the Leader said.
The future of the JCPOA has been in doubt since the US pulled out of the agreement. Despite throwing verbal support behind the JCPOA, the European parties to the deal — France, Britain and Germany — have succumbed to Washington’s pressure and failed to fulfill their contractual commitments under the agreement to protect Tehran's economic interests.
That promoted Tehran to begin a set of retaliatory measures in several stages as part of its legal rights stipulated in Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. The latest such measure was the halt in the implementation of the Additional Protocol, which was required by the parliament-adopted law.
Joe Biden, the current president of the United States, has spoken of a willingness to return his country to the Iran deal, but, in practice, his administration has so far been sticking with Trump’s futile pressure campaign. Washington says Tehran should return to full compliance with the deal before the US does so.