In a surprising move, Iran’s nuclear chief called on the government to take into account the dire economic situation of the people and try to reach an agreement with Washington.
In what appears to be the first criticism of the government’s foreign and economic policy in the administration of President Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran’s Nuclear Organization, Mohammad Eslami, said: “The people can no longer tolerate the economic and financial pressures. He called on Iran’s nuclear negotiating team “to use a strong political and legal argument” to facilitate the lifting of US sanctions and put Iran back on the path of progress and development.
Eslami, who is also vice-president, said during a speech on June 30 and published on Saturday: “The uncalculated measures taken by a part of the government to reform the system of cash grants have served as a pretext for national discontent.”
He was referring to the government’s decision in early May to eliminate food import subsidies that led to unusual price hikes followed by protests in many parts of the country. However, he also blamed the “oppressive powers of the world” [the Islamic Republic officials’ jargon to refer to the United States] opposition to Iran and its “destructive measures” which increase the risk of investing in Iran and create economic and financial hardship for the people.
Eslami said the United States had reduced the value of Iran’s currency by 30-40% in one fell swoop and Iranians were no longer able to tolerate further economic pressure.
Iran’s currency has fallen significantly since March, when nuclear talks aimed at reviving the 2015 deal known as the JCPOA stalled with no final result.
Despite his criticism of the state of the economy, Eslami said elsewhere in his speech: “Iran’s economic situation is exceptional. Iran is one of the top 20 economies in the world. It was no doubt to counterbalance his remarks when he realized that he had gone too far in criticizing the government.
He added that the Iranian opposition abroad keeps telling the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is working on nuclear bombs. He added that IAEA inspections have refuted these claims. However, he did not say that on June 8, the IAEA’s Board of Governors issued a resolution condemning Iran for failing to respond to the agency’s questions about traces of nuclear material at undisclosed sites. declared.
Eslami also refrained from mentioning Iran’s violations of the JCPOA, producing 60% enriched uranium and shortening the time to reach a nuclear breaking point. However, he called on the negotiating team to use strong arguments to win Iran’s case.
It comes as the negotiating team is criticized by Iranian politicians and analysts for not doing their best mainly because they, especially team leader Ali Bagheri, opposed the JCPOA since 2015, and have opposed any deal with the United States since 2011.
Eslami called on officials to address people’s complaints about their dire financial situation.
The most controversial part of Eslami’s speech was his reference to “the need for intelligent command and management to prevent the enemy from making gains”. This could be taken as a reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s occasional indecisiveness in difficult times, as he does not wish to take any responsibility for possible consequences, despite having the final say on everything in Iran, including the nuclear program.