Interior Minister Defends Government Achievements

Abdolreza Rahmani FazliAbdolreza Rahmani Fazli

Iran's interior minister defended the government's track record, explaining how it has successfully reversed the grave domestic situation when it came to office in mid-2013.

President Hassan Rouhani championed last July's nuclear deal with the world's major powers, which scaled back Tehran's nuclear program in return for relief from punitive economic sanctions.

Speaking at a meeting in the northern Golestan Province on Saturday, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli sought to offer a clear picture of what the situation was like before the 2013 presidential election.

"Sanctions had been intensified, the country was under regular threat and there was an atmosphere of Iranophobia and an international coalition against Iran," Rahmani Fazli was quoted by IRNA as saying.

Oil exports had fallen to a million barrels per day and access was restricted to the money from the oil sales, he said.

Before sanctions were tightened in mid-2012, Iran was exporting about 2.2 million bpd of crude, according to the International Energy Agency.

"Our economic sector was grappling with severe instability, but thanks to the measures taken by the government, economic stability has been restored."

"Inflation was reduced to a single digit, economic growth is up from minus 6.8% to 4.4% and oil exports have doubled. We are no longer facing difficulties in transferring money, foreign investors are arriving and the Iranophobia campaign has been defeated," the minister told the provincial officials.

In the talks leading to the landmark nuclear accord, the negotiating team assigned by Rouhani managed to safeguard national nuclear rights and have the sanctions removed and the UN resolutions revoked, he recalled.

Rahmani Fazli warned against attempts to undermine the government's proven record through smear campaigns, which could empower the hostile powers.

"Anyone who hurts national harmony and cohesion is following in the enemy's footsteps."

The minister did not name any group or individual. Observers said his remarks were targeted at some hardline political opponents of the government who in recent months have openly attacked Rouhani and his aides for what they claim are "losses imposed by the nuclear accord and its effects." The opponents insist Iran did not reap the promised dividends from the JCPOA and instead "made huge concessions to the western powers" without getting anything substantial in return.


  Traitors to Islamic Republic

In relevant remarks, another top government official denounced the government critics trying to stoke public frustration, as traitors to the Islamic Republic.

"Some want to sow seeds of frustration, disappoint the masses and portray the government as inefficient. They are betraying the establishment," Vice President for Parliamentary Affairs Hosseinali Amiri said on Friday.

"Under the current circumstances, the nation more than ever before needs national unity and cohesion to disappoint enemies of the Islamic Republic," Amiri added.

Rouhani hopes to capitalize on the momentum created in the absence of sanctions to push through his economic agenda by attracting much-needed foreign investment and technology and restore normal ties with the international community.

It is generally believed that the government's opponents are also apparently fearful that an opening to the West, promoted by Rouhani, whose primary concern is to reverse the current economic downturn, could give the hostile states the opportunity they have been long waiting for to make inroads into the country.