DUBAI, Feb. 26 (AP) — Iran’s currency fell to a new all-time low on Sunday, falling to 600,000 per dollar for the first time, as nationwide anti-government protests and fallout from the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal continued to roil the economy.
In recent days, Iranians have lined up at exchange offices, hoping to buy increasingly scarce dollars.
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Many have seen their life savings wiped out as the local currency loses value. Inflation hit 53.4 percent in January, up from 41.4 percent two years ago, according to the Iran Statistics Center.
Dire economic conditions have sparked widespread anger at the government, but have also forced many Iranians to focus on solving problems rather than engaging in high-stakes politics amid a tough crackdown on dissent.
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When the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was signed, the Iranian currency was worth 32,000 rials. The agreement removed international sanctions in exchange for strict restrictions and oversight of its nuclear activities.
The pact fell apart when then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the pact and reinstated tough sanctions. Iran responded by increasing uranium enrichment, which is now enough to make “several” atomic weapons, should it choose to develop nuclear weapons, according to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, but experts say it had a nuclear weapons program until 2003 and is developing a breakthrough capability that could allow it to quickly build a nuclear weapon if it decided to do so.
The Biden administration backed a return to the 2015 deal, but negotiations stalled last year and appear to have stalled. Iran has provided Russia with armed drones it used to invade Ukraine, further angering the West.
Meanwhile, there has been a wave of anti-government protests in Iran since a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman was detained by morality police in September for allegedly violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.
The protests quickly escalated into calls to overthrow Iran’s ruling Shia clerics, marking a major challenge to their four-year rule. Iran has blamed the unrest on foreign powers, viewing it as an extension of sanctions, but has provided no evidence.
The Trump administration had hoped that the maximum sanctions would force Iran to make major concessions on its nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and military involvement in countries across the Middle East, but it has yet to do so. (Associated Press)
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