Iran leader: Don’t pin hope on sanctions relief

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Supreme Leader urged officials Saturday not to pin hopes for economic recovery on the sanctions relief from a landmark deal reached with world powers on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also called on critics of the interim nuclear deal achieved on Nov. 24 in Geneva to be fair and give time to President Hassan Rouhani to pursue his policy of engagement with the outside world.

“The only solution to the country’s economic problems is to employ (Iran’s) infinite domestic capacities, not to pin hopes on the lifting of sanctions. No expectations from the enemy,” Khamenei told army officers in Tehran.

Khamenei has given his blessing to Rouhani’s outreach policies. But he also has held to the line that the United States is fundamentally Iran’s adversary.

The deal is the centerpiece of Rouhani’s policy. Iran on Jan. 20 stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent and started neutralizing its existing stockpile of that grade — just steps away from weapons material — in order to fulfil commitments reached under the interim deal.

The U.S. and the European Union also lifted some sanctions — blamed for a sharp devaluation of the Iranian rial over the last two years — in response to the Iranian moves. The currency has recovered somewhat since Rouhani took office last summer.[More]