03/05/2007, 00.00
IRAN

“Nuclear” banknotes to counter rising inflation

by Dairush Mirzai
On March 12 an edition of the 50 thousand rial banknote will be printed with the nuclear logo. A propaganda move which serves above all to prevent going the need to carry large quantities of money in a country without credit cards.
Teheran (AsiaNews) – The image of the nuclear logo has created widespread interest but above all the emission of the Iranian banknote serves to hide increasing inflation. 
The underdeveloped Iranian banking system is feeling the effects of economic sanctions imposed by US financial authorities on all business dealing with the US and Iran- thus the Islamic Republic finds itself in a delicate phase of dollar/ euro transition.  But perhaps the most serious problems are found within the Iranian economic system: badly governed and for the most part controlled by the regime, in which corruption and speculation triumph, resulting in chronic inflation.
Today one euro is worth more that 12 thousand rial (Iranians prefer to refer to 1,200 toman) and the largest value banknote is currently 20 thousand rial. On March 12 new banknotes will be printed in Iran, at a value of 50 thousand rial, to enable the authorities to counter inflation and promote their nuclear ambitions. In fact the current nuclear logo will figure on the new currency with a quote from Muhammad in calligraphy (hadith): “If science depends on the constellations, men from Persia will reach it”. This hadith is accepted by both Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims (as well as the Bahai, who use it in conjunction to their Iranian prophet Baha’ullah), however it’s usual interpretation does not speak of “science”, but rather of faith or religion! But that is of little consequence here: the people will realize that the exceptional talent of “Persian men” was recognised by Muhammad. Just as ayatollah Meshkini declared, Iran’s right to nuclear technology is a “divine, natural and inalienable” one.   
On the reverse side of the banknote there will be as always and as is seen everywhere a portrait of the ayatollah Khomeini all to familiar with the population, who in order to buy food need a vast some of “blue” or “green Khomeini’s” (10 and 20 thousand rial banknotes). There are no credit cards: the only other possibility to avoid lugging cases of money around, or use the “cheques” issued by some of the Iranian banks (at a value of half a million to ten million rial). The “nuclear” banknote will help the Iranians face daily difficulties, but just about. Inflation continues to rise at a pace of circa 30% per annum. 
But Jalal Jalilian, head of printing at the Islamic Republic’s central bank has denied that the banknote issue is linked to the depreciation of Iranian currency. So is it merely a political move?  In February 2004, when the 20 thousand rial banknote was introduced its bond to inflation was downplayed. The Iranian regime and in particular the government of Ahmadinejad, widely criticised for their disastrous management of the country’s economy and finances, remain masters in their propaganda management.  The “nuclear” banknote aims to seal the Iranian position to the rest of the world.  An effective, if dangerous tactic, if - or when- they take a step back from their current stance….
 
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