Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the country's economic difficulties were the result of internal "mismanagement" more than U.S. pressure.
"More than [U.S] sanctions, economic mismanagement is putting pressure on ordinary Iranians," state TV quoted Khamenei, who has the final word on all state matters, as saying on August 13.
"With better management and planning we can resist the sanctions and overcome them," he added.
Iran has faced growing economic problems since the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers in May, fueling a crash in the value of the national currency, the rial.
Sporadic street protests have recently hit Tehran and other cities over the slump in the rial, high inflation, economic hardships, and corruption.
The United States on August 7 reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy that were lifted under the nuclear deal in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program. A second round of penalties is due to come into effect in early November.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be willing to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, to discuss ways of improving ties between the two countries.
But Khamenei on August 13 ruled out "any talks" with the United States, saying, "America never remains loyal to its promises in talks."
Iranian officials have denounced the sanctions as "U.S. unilateralism," and blamed "enemies" for the fall of the rial and a rise in the price of gold coins.
"The fall of the rial and the increase in gold-coin prices are major economic problems," Khamenei told a gathering attended by thousands of people, state TV reported.
"The corrupt people should be punished firmly," said Khameni, who approved last week a request by the judiciary to set up special courts to deal with financial crimes.
On August 12, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said 67 people had been arrested in recent weeks as part of a crackdown against corruption, while more than 100 others have been barred from leaving the country.
"Today, [Iranian] officials increasingly talk about the need to combat corruption at every level," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in an August 10 statement.
"Yet to do so requires an independent judiciary that ensures due process rights for all those accused," the New York-based rights watchdog added.