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Touting Missile Launch, Khamenei Urges Surge In Production In A Failing Economy

A man crosses an empty street under portraits of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, right, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, in Tehran, April 3, 2020

The Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says a "surge in production is doable" for a nation that launches satellites into space.

He was referring to his slogan of the year, "surge in production" and the recent controversial launch of a military satellite into orbit.

"The wisdom and intelligence that can build such a satellite and set itself the goal of launching another one with an orbit at 36,000 kilometers definitely has the spirit, innovation and creativity to build automobiles with a 5 L/100 km fuel consumption efficiency and to develop other areas of production,” Khamenei argued.

Iran is known worldwide for the sub-standard cars it makes, copied from decades-old European and Asian models.

In an appearance after a few weeks of self-isolation as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, Khamenei appeared in yet another video conference on May 6 addressing seven entrepreneurs, as well as several industrial managers and exemplary workers.

It was noticeable that Kambiz Golshani, an "entrepreneur" who had sold the same "invention" to the Iranian government several times under different names, most recently as a "virus catcher", was absent in the virtual meeting on the occasion of Labor Week.

Those present included seven quasi-privatized companies plagued by financial corruption, including the National Copper Company, Iran Transfo, and Behyar Sanat Sepahan, as observed by Radio Farda's Iran analyst Reza Haqiqatnejad.

Meanwhile, without any reference to hundreds of protest demonstrations by Iranian workers during the past two years, Khamenei said that “The natural rights of the workforce should be respected – in other words, fair wages and on time payments.”

Incidentally, most of the protest demonstrations were motivated by unpaid or long delayed wages.

In the elaborately stage-managed meeting, some of the "workers" said that no one in the workforce has been suspended from work as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. This comes while government officials including cabinet spokesperson Ali Rabiei say millions had lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak.

Khamenei compared domestic production with the immune system of the human body and said; "The defense and security system of the economy is production. In other words, the thing that can repel the viruses and microbes invading the economy and keep it safe is domestic production.”

This comes while according to a recent comment by Iran's Economy Minister Farhad Dezhpasand, the losses in the Iranian economy as a result of the epidemic include 15 percent of the Gross Domestic product. There is no new statistics about GDP in Iran but based on the predictions of the International Monetary Fund, the growth in Iran's gross domestic product would have reached $463 billion in 2020 if the country was not hit by COVID-19. The forecast is likely to be reduced to $393 billion because of the outbreak.

Continuing the analogy, Khamenei said, “Our economy is, unfortunately, suffering from many natural microbes and viruses. Of course, there are man-made viruses as well. These are viruses such as sanctions and the current [drop in] oil price. These are things that harm the economy. However, if we continually have a good, appropriate, developing production in the country, we can resist such viruses.”

According to Khamenei's website, "pointing to the recent achievement of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in launching the Noor Satellite into space, he stated, “Unfortunately, some people in the country constantly say that it’s impossible and that we can’t; however, we are perfectly capable. The reason for this is that when we are capable of launching a satellite into space with a speed of 7,500 m/s, can successfully put the satellite in orbit and can make great progress in the area of defense industries, we are equally capable of achieving a surge in production.”

However, he did not explain how an economy plagued by mismanagement, unemployment, and an inflation rate of over 41 percent can achieve that. Khamenei also did not explain how a surge in production can be possible with sanctions on Iran's oil export and international banking.

On this occasion, as in previous ones, Khamenei did not link the economy with the country’s foreign policy that has isolated it to the degree it cannot conduct financial transactions even its allies.

In a series of tweets on Khamenei's speech, Haqiqatnejad maintained that the remarks highlighted a lack of understanding of the required infrastructure for Iran's development as if mounting a missile engine on the sub-standard and unsafe Iranian-made car, ironically named "Pride," can push it forward.