DUBAI Oct 2 Iran has been able to cope with
Western economic sanctions and the central bank has supplied
enough hard currency to finance imports even though the
sanctions have cut Tehran's oil earnings, President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.
He was speaking after the Iranian rial plunged to a record
low against the U.S. dollar earlier in the day. It has lost
about a third of its value in the past week, as panicking
Iranians have scrambled to change their rial savings into hard
currency to escape high inflation and further depreciation.
Iran's imports totalled $26 billion in the first half of
this year, down only moderately from $29 billion in the same
period last year, Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
"The central bank has provided all the currency for these
imports," he said.
He said the country's enemies were waging a "psychological
war" against it, adding: "Enemies have managed to reduce our oil
sales but hopefully we will compensate for this."
Many businessmen and ordinary citizens in Iran blame the
government for the currency crisis, and Ahmadinejad has been
criticised for it by political enemies in parliament.
The rial has been depreciating for over a year and has lost
about two-thirds of its value since June 2011. Its losses have
accelerated in the past week after the government launched an
"exchange centre" to supply dollars to importers of some basic
goods; businessmen have complained the centre has failed to meet
demand for dollars.
Ahmadinejad defended his economic record on Tuesday, saying
a phase-out of food and fuel subsidies that he launched in 2010,
which has boosted the official inflation rate to around 25
percent, had been successful.
"What is the subsidy reform? We are taking from the pockets
of those who consume more to give to those who consume less," he