Iran’s Supreme Leader addresses student associations, Tehran, January 12, 2019

Iran’s Supreme Leader has proclaimed that the Islamic Republic can overcome economic problems and US sanctions with “scientific jihad”.

In his latest proclamation of Iranian triumph and American defeat, Ayatollah Khamenei told Islamic student associations on Saturday that they could “make the country completely independent from foreigners”:

This, when done with sincerity and for the sake of God, is jihad in the path of God. You, the youth in the Islamic Associations, can lead this jihad.

Khamenei declared a “Resistance Economy” in 2012, amid US and international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, to make the Islamic Republic self-sufficient. He has issued the statement with renewed force after Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal and the imposition of comprehensive American sanctions from November 5.

However, there has been little sign of the self-sufficiency with Iran struggling with production, investment, trade, employment, and its currency. Iran’s oil exports have fallen almost 60% since April, and non-oil exports were down 57% in December.

The International Monetary Fund is projecting a 3.7% fall in Iranian GDP this year. Iran’s Parliamentary Research Center estimates a 2.6% to 5.5% recession by March 20, depending on the extent of the decline in oil exports.

This morning State outlet IRNA headlines an import by India of 1 million barrels of oil, ignoring the 60% fall in Indian purchases since last spring.

The US has granted Iran’s largest customers, including China and India, sanctions waivers until May — provided they reduce imports of Tehran’s oil.