Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that his government opted to keep silent in the face of "many criticisms" during his eight-year tenure in order to preserve national unity.
"We took in many criticisms and did not respond to many of them so that the national solidarity and national unity is maintained," Rouhani said at his last cabinet meeting as president two days before leaving the office after two terms.
Rouhani, 73, said a "full-fledged economic war" waged by former US president Donald Trump during his second term made it hard for his government to keep up a successful trend launched in the first term.
"It is definitely not possible to achieve objectives designed for peacetime in wartime," the president pointed out.
However, he noted that the government did not abandon its development policy despite the full-blown economic war, the COVID-19 pandemic and drought.
"If one wants to judge the government, they must take into consideration the sanctions, the coronavirus and drought, and then judge," Rouhani said.
Trump launched a campaign of "maximum pressure" on Iran by imposing "toughest ever sanctions" after pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in order to force Tehran to renegotiate the accord.
The president said the sanctions which targeted Iran's oil export and cut off the country from the international banking system led to the decrease in the country's forex revenues.
Under such circumstances, the government had to ban the import of 2,500 different types of goods which resulted in price hikes, he said.
The president hailed the lifting of a UN arms embargo in October 2020 under the nuclear deal, saying it was a blow to the US.
Rouhani added that while Iran had plans to upgrade its Armed Forces after the expiration of the UN arms embargo, it couldn't due to financial problems.
“We did not have the money to buy due to the sanctions and not selling oil, but the contract is completely ready,” he said.
Rouhani, a moderate, insisted that he and his cabinet did their utmost to resolve problems and to be "less flawed".
"We tried to be less flawed and have fewer defects. If we have a defect, we apologize to the people and ask them for forgiveness and mercy," he said.