CAIRO (AP) — Iran’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Sunday, with nationwide anti-government protests now in their third month. A breakdown in negotiations to restore Tehran’s nuclear deal has also hurt the value of the rial.
Traders in Tehran were exchanging the rial at around 370,000 to the dollar on Sunday, up from 368,000 on Thursday. Iran’s currency was trading at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of the 2015 nuclear accord that dropped international sanctions in exchange for tight controls on Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran has been gripped by nationwide protests since September. Demonstrations broke out following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. She was detained by the force for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women. The status of the morality police remains unclear after Iran’s chief prosecutor, Mohamed Jafar Montazeri, said last week that the force had ‘’closed down.” Iranian state media has distanced itself from Montazeri’s claim.
Protesters have focused much of their anger on the country’s heavy-handed policing 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.
Iran’s government for months has been trying to argue that foreign nations are driving the unrest but has offered no evidence to support this claim.
So far, at least 485 people have been killed and over 18,200 others arrested in the protests and the violent security force crackdown that followed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations. On Friday, Iran said it executed the first person convicted of a crime allegedly committed during the protests. At least 12 other protesters have been handed death sentences by Iranian courts since the demonstrations began, according to data recorded by HRNA.
Efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal stalled months ago. The United States and European Union have since imposed further sanctions on Tehran for its crackdown on the demonstrators and its decision to supply Russia with hundreds of drones for its war against Ukraine.
Last week, Iran began construction on a new power plant. Last month, Iranian authorities said they had begun producing enriched uranium at 60% purity, one short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.