Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Washington for the state’s economic woes and called on Iranians to “bring America to its knees.”
Merchants shut down their shops Tuesday as hundreds gathered in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar to protest the state’s failing currency and the government’s handling of the economy.
President Hassan Rouhani tried to calm protesters by promising them that Iran will be able to provide them with basic needs and has the ability inject foreign currency into their markets. (RELATED: After Massive Economic Protests, Rouhani Says Iran Will Not Bow To Pressure From Trump)
Khamenei took a harder stance Wednesday when he demanded the judiciary punish those “who disrupt economic security,” according to a Reuters report, a clear attempt to dissuade citizens who plan to protest in the future.
“The atmosphere for the work, life and livelihood of the people must be secure, and the judiciary must confront those who disrupt economic security,” he said in a meeting with judiciary officials.
The Iranian unrest signals effects of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Since then, Washington has reimposed significant economic sanctions on Iran and has more planned for the future.
“We will take problems. We will take pressure. But we will not sacrifice our independence,” Rouhani said on state television on Tuesday.
The Iranian rial has plunged to record lows against the U.S. dollar, which on Sunday was compared at $1 to 89,000 rials, according to foreign exchange website Bonbast.
The sanctions also have the potential to disrupt Iran’s future plans to expand its oil industry, Mehrdad Emadi, an Iranian economist who leads energy risk analysis at London’s Betamatrix consultancy, told Reuters.
Emadi predicts the sanctions could cause Iran’s crude oil exports to drop by between 500,000 and 800,000 bpd.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on a trip to India Thursday urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to back away from dependence on Iranian oil.
India seemed to respond that claims India’s oil ministry has asked refiners to plan for a ‘drastic reduction or zero’ oil imports from Iran, according to Reuters report.
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