Declaring that Iran’s problems are the product of US “economic warfare”, the Supreme Leader has warned against the spread of pessimism in the country.

The Islamic Republic is in the grip of an economic crisis from a combination of long-standing internal issues and expanding US sanctions, further by Donald Trump’s withdrawal in May from the 2015 nuclear agreement. Production, investment, employment, and trade have been limited; the banking sector is unsettled; and the Iranian currency has fallen 65% since January. The devaluation has fed a resurgence in inflation, which had been brought down to single digits from a high of more than 40% in 2013.

Addressing the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Khamenei insisted on Thursday that the problems are overstated:

This exaggeration intensifies the anxiety of public opinion and causes the pessimism virus to spread. It is not correct to speak in a way that the audience is terrified and thinks that all is lost.

Khamenei maintained, “Iran is moving towards concepts, ideals & truths of the Revolution. Although the movement may not have the expected pace, Iran is progressing in various arenas of science, industry, politics, intellectual & spiritual growth, with great attainments.”

“Resistance” is Futile?

The Supreme Leader has declared since 2012 that Iran can be self-sufficient with a “Resistance Economy” despite US sanctions. However, he has offered little detailed guidance on how this can be achieved.

The US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement — reached after years of negotiation between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, France, UK, Germany, China, and Russia) — has further hindered that prospect. A first set of expanded sanctions was imposed last month. Comprehensive restrictions, including on the oil and financial sectors, are due on November 5.

The Rouhani Government had pursued talks with European countries to bring in trade and investment to offset the Americans. However, the European Union has been unable to guarantee large companies against US punishment, and many firms have drawn down or suspended business with Tehran.

Last week the Supreme Leader ordered a halt to the negotiations.

Khamenei offered no immediate steps on Thursday, while implicitly referring to discord in which MPs dismissed the Labor and Economy Ministers last month and threatened the removal of others.

“No government can go on without the support and trust of the people, we must not act in a way that will deprive the government of the people’s trust,” Khamenei said. He continued:

The remedy to the problems of the country is not to leave the government alone and express opposition to the activities of the sectors in charge; the remedy is to create a healthy relation between the public opinion and the government sectors.

The remedy is speaking out and criticizing while at the same time offering intellectual assistance and aid to realize [desired change].

There was a sliver of better news for the regime on Thursday. After dropping another 25% this week, the Iranian currency has settled over the past 48 hours.

The rial is now at 137,000:1 v. the US dollar. It stood at 45,000:1 — already an all-time low — in January.