Iran's president blames currency nosedive on 'psychological pressures' (+video)
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad downplayed criticism that the steep plunge in Iran's currency, the rial, is due to government mismanagement of the economy, instead blaming Western sanctions.
Iran's president on Tuesday blamed the steep drop in Iran's currency on "psychological pressures" linked to Western sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program and Iran's increasing bitter political battles.
The remarks were part of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attempt to deflect criticism from political rivals that his government's policies also have contributed to the nosedive of the Iranian rial, which has lost more than half its value against the U.S. dollar this year and has sharply pushed up costs for many imported goods.
The price hikes have added to the burdens on Iran's economy as it struggles with tougher sanctions targeting its crucial oil exports and measures blocking it from key international banking networks. The U.S. and its allies have imposed the punishing measures in attempts to force Iranian concessions over its nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran insists the program is for peaceful purposes.
An Iranian parliament member, Mohammad Bayatian, was quoted on the chamber's website, icana.ir, as saying that enough signatures have been collected to force Ahmadinejad to face questioning before lawmakers over the currency's tumble.
Ahmadinejad directly criticized parliament speaker Ali Larijani for his claims, reported by the semiofficial Fars news agency, that "80 percent" of economic problems were linked to government mismanagement and the rest to sanctions.
The rial's sharp decline is attributed to a combination of Western sanctions and government policies, such as fueling inflation by increasing the money supply while also holding down bank interest rates, which prompted many people to withdraw their rials to exchange for foreign currency.