Iran presses on despite currency woes

2012-10-03 11:03

Tehran - Iran will press on with its nuclear programme despite the problems caused by Western sanctions, including a dramatic slide in the value of its currency, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.

"We are not a people to retreat on the nuclear issue," he told a news conference in Tehran.

"If somebody thinks they can pressure Iran, they are certainly wrong and they must correct their behaviour," he said.

Ahmadinejad's comments came amid an accelerated slide in Iran's currency, which has now lost more than 80% of its value compared with a year ago - with 17% of its value shed on Monday alone.

The rial slipped another 4% on Tuesday to close at 36 100 to the dollar, according to exchange tracking websites.

Ahmadinejad said the plunge was part of an economic "war" waged by the West on the Islamic republic and "a psychological war on the exchange market".

Under 'enormous pressure'

Iran, he said, had sufficient foreign currency reserves.

Those reserves were estimated at around $100bn at the end of last year, thanks to surging oil exports.

The White House said on Tuesday that Iranians blamed their leaders for the rising deprivation caused by US and international sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the fast-deteriorating economic situation in Iran, which has also sparked price hikes in basic foods, was a sign the government in Tehran was under "enormous pressure".

"The Iranian people are aware of who is responsible for the circumstances that have befallen the Iranian economy as a result of the regime's intransigence in its refusal to abide by its obligations."

The US Treasury estimates Iran's foreign earnings have been cut by $5bn a month under the Western economic measures.

Criticism over talks

In his media conference, Ahmadinejad backtracked on hints he had made during a visit to New York at the UN General Assembly that Iran could consider direct negotiations with the United States on the nuclear issue.

"Direct negotiation is possible, but needs conditions, and I do not think the conditions are there for talks. Dialogue should be based on fairness and mutual respect," he said.

But he also said: "I think that this situation cannot last in the relations between Iran and the United States."

Hardliners in Iran criticised Ahmadinejad on his return for opening the door to the possibility of talks with the United States. That also fuelled criticism that his government has mismanaged the economy.

The chairperson of Tehran's chamber of commerce, Yahya Ale-Eshagh, was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency that "part of this [currency] tumult is due to sanctions".

No vote of confidence

But he also said "the person who is not able to manage in a time of crisis should not continue working in his post".

Mohammad Bayatian, a member of parliament on an industry and mines commission, said, according to the parliamentary website, that "a petition has been prepared to question the president".

He said the petition was "due to the government not paying attention to the parliament's remarks over its management of the forex market".

The parliament's presiding board was to decide whether to admit the petition. If it goes ahead, it would only be to hear Ahmadinejad speak on the issue, and it would not involve a confidence vote or other serious procedure.

Mehdi Mohammadi, a figure close to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, wrote in a piece for the Vatan Emrouz newspaper on Tuesday: "Is the currency situation in the market due to sanctions? No... The problem is not a lack of [foreign] currency."

Israel 'not a concern'

He blamed the government, and unidentified "mafias" he said were profiting from the currency volatility.

Mohammadi also said holding talks with the United States was not an option.

"Past experience shows that speaking of negotiations in these conditions only sends a signal of weakness. The enemy only makes concessions and takes you seriously when you're strong," he wrote.

On the prospect of a military conflict breaking out over the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad reaffirmed that he was "not very concerned" about persistent threats from Israel.

"Iran is not a country to be shaken by, let's say, a few firecrackers," he said.

  • leonard.rom.7 - 2012-10-03 11:25

    ok Mugabe oh sorry Iran president mahmoud hahaha

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-10-03 11:30

    Did anyone at anytime then think that Iran would stop with their evil plans?

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-03 11:53

    It takes great people to make such hard choices, refuse to pander to western economic terrorism, promote your own and endure the consequences!

      dustin.mccrindle.5 - 2012-10-03 15:13

      Like the great Bob Mugabe?

  • daniel.kagan.9 - 2012-10-03 12:10

    Fidel how great can a leader be when he uses external threats to distract from the suffering and hardship of his own people? The green revolution was snuffed with extreme violence in Iran. The Iranian regime has proven itself to be one of the most opressive in the region. My thoughts and prayers are with the Iranian people who must suffer daily under a hideous theocracy.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-03 12:51

      Iranians went to the polls and voted for the incumbent and to date there's been no reputable evidence of any significant irregularity regarding the elections in that country. (Iran doesn't need western monitors to validate its processes) All foreign sponsored revolutions, organised and financed by foreign so called NGOs aren't going to be tolerated from now on, by any other country for that matter.(Free and fair interference is not the same as free and fair elections) Please lI do not want to get into a debate on these so called colour revolutions happening in countries that refuse to follow Washington's dictas!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-03 14:12

      Fidel, you believe Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. Your exact words in the US/Mandela thread a few weeks ago. With this kind of thinking, any reputable evidence that the Iranian regime adjusts election results, of which there is plenty, would go unnoticed. In your world even Nelson Mandela is not reputable.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-03 18:05

      The Iranian people will get their country back, which was hijacked by a bunch of religiuos psychopaths !!!! For Sure !!!

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-03 12:26

    You threaten the existance of a un member nation , don't live up to your obligations, be deceitful and continue on this path of aggression , intolerance , hate , religous fascism , supression , oppression and fanatical rhetoric . Guess what the rest of the kids on the jungle gym aren't gonna play with you any more. The inner discourse is going to escalate , a far greater threat to the regime than a attack on nuclear facilities especially when the religous foundations suck up 30% of govt spending its gonna bite hard . 12% inflation , plunging currency , shrinking exports , increasingly expensive imports cannot be hidden by inflammatory rhetoric and in-group /out-group adjective pumped speeches . Its big , its green and is lurking in the halls of Iranian universities .... and its not the hulk.

  • masupa.tsela - 2012-10-03 19:57

    As long as people of the world can't see that America as well as the West(sometimes) creates more problems that they offer solutions, I see the Thirld World War being with us sooner than later!\r\nThese people continue to impose everything to everyone, and one is damned if one ever tries to think. If they just anything everyone is forced to agree!\r\nThey(America) do things against UN Security Council and no one is brave to speak louder. But no country can do anything they (America), its quickly get given new negative names. And the world is watching and does nothing!\r\nAmerica first,#uck everyone!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-03 21:08

      The West certainly is not perfect. But why would you want to support the Iranian regime that is at least as oppressive as the Apartheid regime?

  • pages:
  • 1