First Published: 2012-09-10

 

SMS containing ‘dollar’ suppressed in Iran

 

Iran tries to obscure its currency's new record plunge against US dollar through mobile, website censorship.

 

Middle East Online

Dropping to new record low

TEHRAN - Iran's currency plunged nearly eight percent to a new record low against the dollar on Monday, but the dramatic drop was being suppressed within the country on mobile phone text services and some exchange websites.

One money changer said by telephone that the street rate around midday (0730 GMT) was 26,400 rials to the dollar, sharply lower than the 24,000 rate late on Sunday.

The Mehr news agency reported a rate of around 26,000.

Mobile telephone text messages that included the word "dollar" in English or in Farsi were censored, with the message not being received, AFP noted. The Farsi word for "foreign money" was also blocked.

But text messages containing the words "USD", "euro" or the $ symbol were all transmitted and received normally.

Such text blocks on the word "dollar" were implemented before in Iran, on January 10, when the rial also dived precipitously. The country's two main mobile phone service providers, MCI and Irancell, claimed at the time they were not filtering messages.

Several Iranian websites that usually give real-time foreign exchange rates had the dollar rate blanked out on Monday. One website, mesghal.ir, did give a dollar rate, but at 25,650 it was lower than that reported by money-changers.

Visitors to the money-exchanging district in central Tehran saw many of the shops half-shuttered, and none displayed a rate for dollars in their windows.

Monday's plunge deepened a sharp slide of five percent recorded on Sunday.

Separate from the floating street exchange rate, Iran maintains a fixed official rate of 12,260 rials to the dollar, but that is reserved for the government and a few privileged businesses.

The rest of the country relies on the street rate, with the result that the price of imported goods have sharply risen in recent months.

The head of Iran's parliamentary budget commission, Gholam Reza Mesbahi-Moghadam, told the Fars news agency that "the government has committed its biggest historic mistake by not responding to the demands in the forex market."

He was quoted as saying that the dollar's sharp rise against the dollar was because the central bank "has not injected dollars (into the market) in the past three weeks."

Compared to the rate in December last year, the value of the rial against the dollar has halved under the impact of draconian Western economic sanctions. The measures are aimed at crippling Iran's all-important oil exports to punish Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme.

Iranian authorities have tried several times in recent months to stop the currency's slide -- even briefly at one point trying to impose a cap on the rate -- but the rial has returned to shedding value.

"The central bank cannot systematically lower the exchange rate, but we have attempted to control it," Central Bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani told reporters on Sunday, the ISNA news agency reported.

"Our situation is one of war. We are fighting an economic war with the world," he said.

Market uncertainty has been exacerbated by bellicose rhetoric from Israel, the Middle East's sole though undeclared nuclear weapons state, which has threatened air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran's authorities have vowed not to cede to the sanctions pressure, saying they will maintain their nuclear activities, which they insist are purely civilian in nature.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Cyprus on the weekend said they were considering imposing further sanctions on Iran.

 

Britain wants ‘strategic partnership’ with GCC

Morocco PM statement on Russia’s ‘destructive’ role in Syria angers Moscow

Syria forces take control of Aleppo Old City

Over 40 people missing after ship sinks off Yemen

Qatar to invest up to $13bn on 'mega projects' in 2017

Turkish businessmen embrace Erdogan’s plan to boost lira

Syria rebels call for Aleppo ceasefire

Battle for Mosul advances deeper into city

Iran to sign deal with Shell in bid to boost output

Israeli missiles strike targets outside Damascus

Hollande condemns Russia’s ‘systematic obstruction’ of Syria ceasefire

Turkey doing 'everything possible' to push Syria talks between Russia, opposition

Turkish soldiers killed in Syria bomb blast

Russia army colonel dies after Aleppo rebel shelling

Libyan forces hunt remaining jihadists in Sirte

Iraqi jailed in Sweden for war crimes after Facebook post

Regime forces seize five Aleppo districts from rebels

Israeli artist erects golden Netanyahu statue in protest

Russia says US stalling on Aleppo rebel pullout

Saudi sentences 15 to death for being Iranian spies

US defence secretary says Mosul battle could end before Trump

US, NATO stress 'unity' as Trump raises doubts

Greece to extradite three Turkish coup officers

Egypt arrests 25 human organ traffickers

Israel far right hails bill to 'legalise' settler homes

Merkel says Aleppo situation ‘disgrace’

Iranian president says sanctions renewal proves US still ‘enemy’

Yemen arrests eight IS suspects in Aden

Turkey arrests opposition advisor over alleged Gulen links

Russia says OPEC, non-OPEC countries to meet in Vienna

British PM joins GCC summit for trade talks

Israel government nears deal that could 'legalise' settler homes

Yemen's Hadi would only give way to 'elected' leader

Russia says medic killed, others injured in Aleppo fighting

Greek court rejects extradition of Turkey officers

Sudan court frees 26 protesters

Syria rebels to reject Aleppo withdrawal plan

Libya loyalist forces capture Sirte

Israeli envoy to Turkey resumes work after 2010 fallout

New Iraqi law legitimising militias sparks controversy

Israel lifts ban on parcel post to Gaza

Russia, US to hold talks on rebel pullout from Aleppo

UN appeals for $22.2 billion in global aid

Air strikes kill at least 46 in Syria's Idlib

Kerry accuses right-wing Israelis of sabotaging peace process