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'Enemies' destroying Iran's economy, central bank chief says

The Iranian currency hit its all-time low when weighed against the U.S. dollar during the weekend.

By
Daniel J. Graeber

July 30 (UPI) -- The head of the Iranian central bank said it was monitoring the swift devaluation of its currency, the rial, as U.S. economic pressure on the country mounts.

"Enemies are out to destroy the country's assets and instill disappointment in public through sanctions," Abdolnasser Hemmati, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, was quoted in the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.

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Some U.S. sanctions go into force by Wednesday. In November, those sanctions reach into the Iranian oil sector, sidelining one of the largest producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Secondary sources reporting to OPEC economies put Iranian oil production in June at 3.8 million barrels per day on average. U.S. officials have said they want to reduce Iran's ability to export oil as much as possible by November, while Iran has threatened to block transit through the Straits of Hormuz if it's isolated.

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The Straits of Hormuz is a key chokepoint for the flow of oil from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Iranian broadcaster Press TV reported the Iranian rial hit an all-time low against the U.S. dollar on Sunday. The currency dropped to 116,000 to one U.S. dollar, beating the late June low point of 87,000 rials to the dollar.

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Press TV's report attributed the decline in the value of the rial to U.S. President Donald Trump's "hostile rhetoric."

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Hemmati replaced Central Bank Gov. Valiollah Seif, who led the bank since 2013, on Wednesday. In May, Trump included Seif on the list of designated terrorists for his alleged financial support for Lebanese militant and political group Hezbollah. Additional U.S. pressure meant anyone who did business with Seif would be isolated from U.S. financial networks, making it exceptionally complex to work with Iran.

In February, Iran's Central Bank said all segments of the economy were improving and growth in gross domestic product was around 4 percent on the back of increasing oil production and exports.

Campaigning for a second term in office earlier last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said easing international sanctions and addressing a high rate of inflation were national priorities.

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