CAIRO — Iran’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Sunday, with nationwide anti-government protests entering their third month. A breakdown in negotiations to reinstate Tehran’s nuclear deal also hurt the value of the rial.
Traders in Tehran were trading the rial at around 370,000 to the dollar on Sunday, down from 368,000 on Thursday. Iran’s currency traded at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of the 2015 nuclear deal that removed international sanctions in exchange for tight controls over Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran has been plagued by nationwide protests since September. Protests erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s vice squad. She was forcibly detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women. The status of the vice squad remains unclear after Iran’s chief prosecutor, Mohamed Jafar Montazeri, said last week that the force had “closed”. Iranian state media distanced themselves from Montazeri’s claim.
Protesters have focused much of their anger on the country’s heavy-handed police and the deep-rooted power of its Islamic clergy. But the poor state of Iran’s economy is also another factor driving the protests, with soaring prices, high unemployment and corruption a common complaint among protesters.
The Iranian government has been trying for months to argue that foreign nations are behind the unrest, but has offered no evidence to support the claim.
So far, at least 485 people have been killed and more than 18,200 others arrested in the protests and the violent crackdown by security forces that followed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the protests. On Friday, Iran said it had executed the first person convicted of a crime allegedly committed during the protests. At least 12 other protesters have been sentenced to death by Iranian courts since the protests began, according to data recorded by HRNA.
Efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal stalled months ago. The United States and the European Union have since imposed new sanctions on Tehran for its crackdown on protesters and its decision to supply Russia with hundreds of drones for its war against Ukraine.
Last week Iran began construction of a new power plant. Last month, Iranian officials said they had started producing enriched uranium at 60% purity, a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90%.