Tehran – President Hassan Rowhani blamed Iran’s woes on U.S. President Donald Trump and an “American conspiracy” as he defended his government’s response to the country’s economic crisis.
“There is an anti-Iran group sitting in the White House that is planning a conspiracy against us,” Rowhani told lawmakers in parliament Tuesday, vowing that he will not allow it to succeed.
“But together we will tackle this phase too,” he said.
It was the first time Rowhani, regarded as a moderate, had been summoned by parliament to face questions since he was elected in 2013.
It was seen a win for hardliners who have opposed his reforms.
Rowhani was asked about his plans to shore up the rial, which has fallen in value by more than 50 per cent since April, and rising unemployment.
“Everything, even in the economy, had been going well in the first four and a half years (of office) … but in the last months it hasn’t,” Rowhani said.
Statistics from recent years showed the government programme was succesful, therefore the current crisis was due to the U.S. deciding to quit the 2015 nuclear deal and reinstate sanctions, he said.
Rowhani defended the nuclear deal, describing it as a diplomatic victory for Iran: “With the deal we proved above all to the world that our nuclear programme is peaceful,” he said.
A secret vote showed, however, that Rowhani’s defence of his government failed to convince the majority of lawmakers
His appearance came days after Massoud Karbassian was ousted as economy minister, the fourth member of Rowhani’s economics team to be removed in recent weeks.
His labour minister was voted out by lawmakers earlier this month and the chief and deputy chief of the central bank were given the axe in July.
The crisis has also prompted hardliners, who were always against the nuclear deal and any rapprochement with the West, to call on Rowhani to step down.
Having lost at the polls for the last five years, hardliners see the current crisis as an opportunity to return to power.