The record devaluation of Iran’s currency, the rial, in recent weeks has prompted the judiciary to step in after President Ebrahim Raisi blamed “internal and external” forces for the turbulence.
Speaking at an event in Tehran on Monday, Raisi said the sudden price jump was due to attempts by inimical forces in and outside the country to “create turbulence” in the forex market.
Rial on Monday hovered around 570,000 to the US dollar in the free market, a day after it touched an all-time low, breaching the mark of 600,000 and triggering panic buying.
The record depreciation in the Iranian currency’s value has continued in recent months amid anti-government protests and a stalemate in nuclear deal talks.
It has also pushed the inflation rate to unprecedented levels, prompting Iran’s central bank to inject tens of thousands of dollars into the market to stabilize it.
“How is it possible that the value of currency depreciates during three days of holidays when no transactions were made in the market,” the Iranian president said, pointing the finger of blame at “foreign forces”.
“We are not saying that the jump in the price of (foreign) currencies these days is only due to enmity, but you should know that the same current that started the street riots is playing a role in currency inflammation,” he added, referring to recent protests.
Iran has been rocked by countrywide protests in recent months, triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in mid-September while in police custody.
Iranian authorities have blamed Western governments for “instigating” what it calls “riots” while the US and European countries have imposed waves of sanctions on Tehran over a crackdown on the protests.
Before the outbreak of the protests, the rial was trading at 298,200 to the US dollar, losing a significant value in recent months.
After Raisi’s remarks, Iran’s attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri warned that those found involved in the “disruption of the forex market” will be prosecuted.
The impasse over the 2015 nuclear deal has also contributed to the country’s economic volatility, fueling the depreciation of the rial. Talks aimed at the revival of the deal remain stalled since last August.
Notably, since 2018, when the former US administration walked out of the nuclear deal, Iran’s currency has seen more than ten-fold devaluation.
On Sunday, Raisi asked his economic team “to do all it can” to stabilize the market and address concerns while describing the forex market crisis as a “psychological war by enemies.”
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