Iranian Rial Hits Record Low Against the Dollar

The dollar was being offered for as much as 170,000 rials, according to Tasnim. The rial has lost approximately 75 percent of its value since the beginning of 2018

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, August 29, 2018
AFP

The Iranian rial hit a record low against the U.S. dollar on the unofficial market on Wednesday, the Tasnim news agency reported, amid a deterioration in the economic situation in Iran and the reimposition of sanctions by the United States.

The dollar was being offered for as much as 170,000 rials, according to Tasnim. The rial has lost approximately 75 percent of its value since the beginning of 2018.

The currency has been volatile for months because of a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who fear the pullout of Washington from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and renewed U.S. sanctions could shrink Iran’s exports of oil and other goods.

A set of U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry is due to take effect in November. Rohani, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, said the United States had waged “economic war” against Iran by reimposing unilateral sanctions.

Iran’s parliament sacked the minister of economic affairs and finance and the minister of labour in August, the latest in a continuing shake-up of top economic personnel. In July President Hassan Rohani replaced the head of the central bank.

Protests linked to the tough economic situation in Iran erupted last December, spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in 25 deaths.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Rohani exchanged taunts at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday with Trump vowing more sanctions against Tehran and Rohani suggesting his American counterpart suffers from a "weakness of intellect."

Trump used his annual address to the United Nations to attack Iran's "corrupt dictatorship," praise last year's bogeyman North Korea and lay down a defiant message that he will reject globalism and protect American interests.

But much of his 35-minute address was aimed squarely at Iran, which the United States accuses of harboring nuclear ambitions and fomenting instability in the Middle East through its support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

"Iran's leaders sow chaos, death and destruction," Trump told the gathering in the green-marbled hall. "They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations."

Rohani, addressing the assembled world leaders later, sharply criticized Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. He said he had "no need for a photo opportunity" with Trump and suggested the U.S. president's pull back from global institutions was a character defect.

"Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength. Rather it is a symptom of the weakness of intellect - it betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world," he said.

Trump's address was met largely by silence from world leaders still not comfortable with go-it-alone views that have strained U.S. relationships with traditional allies worldwide.