Today, the Iranian Economy Minister stated that the Iranian government owes approximately 540 Trillion Toman. The official Dollar to Toman rate is 2850 Tomans per 1 US Dollar. So the Iranian government owes around $189 Billion Dollars.
Some people believe that once sanctions are removed, Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars. So in theory Rouhani could use that to pay off all his debts.
Well, its more complicated than that.
According to Adam J. Szubin, the US acting under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, it is estimated that:
Iran has $100 billion to $125 billion in foreign exchange assets worldwide, but that “our assessment is that Iran’s usable liquid assets after sanctions relief will be much lower, at little more than $50 billion.”
So Rouhani has $189 Billion in debt (blame Ahmadinejad for much of it), and around $50 billion in cash coming his way soon. So where will he get the approximately $139 Billion that he needs to pay off his government’s debts?
With oil hovering around $35 per barrel, Rouhani needs investments from abroad, and badly. This is also why he wants the IRGC to be less adventurous abroad and at home. Arresting Iranian – Americans on dubious charges, ballistic missile tests are all bad for attracting investment. But Rouhani can’t stop any of these. So he is stuck, between a massive debt and the hard-liners.