Rial has fallen 25% since Sunday morning, with no sign from authorities on how to halt decline


UPDATE 1055 GMT: The Iranian currency has fallen more than 7% so far on Tuesday, and now stands at 140,000:1 v. the US dollar.

Iran’s regime maintained silence about its currency crisis on Monday, even as the rial sank almost 20% amid economic problems.

The rial has plummeted from 107,500:1 v. the US dollar on Sunday morning to 130,000:1 by the close of business on Tuesday.

The currency has lost 65% of its value this year. In January, it stood at 45,000:1 — already an all-time low for the Islamic Republic.

Iran is beset by a combination of long-term internal problems and expanding US sanctions. Production, trade, employment, and investment are being limited, and oil revenues are under threat of a reduction of up to 50%.

The rial fell sharply in late July, including a 35% drop over one weekend, to 119,000:1 v. the US dollar. Regime intervention — including a rise in interest rates for saving, a reorganized foreign exchange market, and prosecutions of “economic corruptors — brought a short-lived recovery to about 95,000:1 but the rial began slipping again last month before the latest slide.

The Supreme Leader, who spoke to commanders Sunday about maintaining a strong military even though he foresees no war, said nothing yesterday about the threat to his “Resistance Economy”. President Hassan Rouhani, who issued a statement of support on Sunday for the Supreme Leader’s “guidance”, was also silent.

Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Assembly of Experts, assured that problems will be solved with the Supreme Leader’s “giving power to the judiciary to deal quickly and decisively with economic corruptors”, including special Revolutionary Courts and no appeal of long sentences. Jannati said, “If we have the Qur’an before us, we will have success and prosperity.”

But MPs, who have criticized the Rouhani Government and dismissed two ministers last month, are speaking out.

On Sunday, the Majlis approved a “double urgent” bill for the Government to import essential commodities and provide them at subsidized prices at cooperatives and state-owned shops. The goods include meat, rice, sugar, and bread.

Some MPs, as well as economists, are suggesting rationing with the distribution of coupons for the items. The Government has resisted the measure, fearing its psychological impact.

Iranian State news agency IRNA implicitly refers to the issue, with an article calling on people to reduce gasoline consumption.

And the conservative outlet Tasnim uses an interview with a US “economic researcher” to refer to the currency fall, headlining, “US Using Dollar as Weapon against Iran, Turkey, Russia“.

Husband of Political Prisoner Sotoudeh Detained

Iranian authorities have detained Reza Khandan, the husband of human rights lawyer and political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Khandan was arrested by agents of the Intelligence Ministry at his home on Tuesday following his public support for Sotoudeh, who has been held since June in her latest imprisonment.

Khandan’s lawyer Mohammad Moghimi said his client has been charged with “assembly and collusion against national security” and “promoting non-observance of the hijab”. Bail has been set at 7 billion rials (approximately $166,000 USD).

Moghimi said:

My client and I have not accepted any of these charges. They have no legal basis. All he did was inform the public about his wife’s situation in prison. And to have pins in your home with slogans against forced hijab does not constitute promotion of bad hijab behavior. I strongly object to these charges.

Sotoudeh was also imprisoned between 2010 and 2013, following her defense of political prisoners held amid mass protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election. She was seized this spring because of her representation of woman protesting the compulsory wearing of the hijab.