Iran’s vice president: Country is in a serious situation, but not at a dead end

Eshaq Jahangiri acknowledges economic woes, but insists nation has natural and human resources to fall back on

Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in 2016. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in 2016. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran’s economic situation is serious, but the nation is not at a dead-end, and has natural and human resource to fall back on, the Islamic Republic’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said Saturday.

“The situation in the country is a serious situation and we are at this particular stage for economic reasons, but that does not mean that we are at a dead-end,” he told members of the IRNA news agency during a meeting, stressing that there were “solutions.”

“The country has great capacities in terms of natural, human, and managerial resources,” he said. “We have great cultural…and civilizational capacities that can support the nation on difficult days.”

He noted the country’s vast oil and gas reserves as well as wealth of mineral deposits and metals.

And he stressed that “No issue is more important for the country than national unity and national coherence and understanding.”

Since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal in May the Iranian rial has slipped to record lows, which has consequently led many in the authoritarian country to dare to explicitly call for an end to the rule of Iran’s Islamist leadership.

On Thursday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formed a group to coordinate and run US policy toward Iran as the Trump administration moves ahead with efforts to force changes in the Islamic Republic’s behavior after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump, right, listens to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during press conference after a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

Accusing Iran of unleashing “a torrent of violence and destabilizing behavior against the United States, our allies, our partners and, indeed, the Iranian people themselves,” Pompeo announced the creation of the Iran Action Group, which he said would drive administration policy in Washington and overseas.

He said the administration remains willing to talk to Iran but that in order to do so “we must see major changes in the regime’s behavior both inside and outside its borders.”

Since withdrawing, the administration has re-imposed sanctions that were eased under the deal and has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran to try to get it to stop what it describes as “malign activities” in the region. In addition to its nuclear and missile programs, the administration has repeatedly criticized Iran for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Shiite rebels in Yemen and anti-Israel groups.

It has also in recent weeks stepped up criticism of Iran’s human rights record and is working with other nations to curb their imports of Iranian oil.

The administration is warning Iran’s oil customers that they will face US sanctions in November unless they significantly reduce their imports with an eye on eliminating them entirely. It has also told businesses and governments in Europe that they may also be subject to penalties if they violate, ignore or attempt to subvert the re-imposed US sanctions.

Critics of the administration’s approach suggest that it is adopting a policy of regime change in Iran, something that Pompeo and other officials have denied. They maintain they only want to see the government change course.

AP contributed to this report.

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