By RFE/RL staff
President Hassan Rohani made the comments while launching a railway project near Tehran on December 31.
“Iran would have earned $200 billion surplus income…if the country were not involved in an economic war,” he said.
The United States imposed new sanctions against Iran after Washington abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal in which Iran agreed to curb its controversial nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief and other incentives.
The U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports have significantly cut Iranian oil exports, as the United States ended in May all waivers for all of Iran’s oil buyers and is going after anyone dealing with Iranian oil.
Since the United States abandoned the deal in 2018, Iran has lost 90 percent of its oil exports, a key source of revenue. Its currency has plummeted, and inflation has surpassed 40 percent.
Rohani also questioned arguments from hardline conservatives who criticize him and who say that the sanctions have not affected Iran.
“What should we do? When there is no food and water, you are still in danger no matter how strong you are,” he said.
Rohani’s comments came just weeks after millions of Iranians protested against economic hardships, inequality, financial corruption, and discrimination following a gas price hike in November.