Iran’s currency, the rial, plunged to a second record low on Sunday, dropping past 100,000 rials to the U.S. dollar. The currency’s collapse comes one week until the August 7 deadline when the United States will reimpose economic sanctions on Iran.
Following the decline of Iran’s currency to 90,000 rials to one U.S. dollar last month, protesters who were rioting against Iran’s government over economic mismanagement were chanting: “We don’t want the dollar to be at 100,000 rials.”
On Sunday, their nightmare became a reality.
According to Reuters, “On Sunday, the Iranian rial plunged to 111,500 against one U.S. dollar on the unofficial market, down from about 97,500 rials on Saturday, according to foreign exchange website Bonbast.com. Other websites said the dollar was exchanged between 108,500 and 116,000 rials.”
The August 7 sanctions will reportedly include the purchase or acquisition of U.S. dollars by the Iranian government; the trade and purchase of gold and precious metals from Iran; and the direct and indirect sale, supply, and transfer of graphite, raw or semi-finished metals, coal, and industrial-related software to or from Iran.
Iranian media have been attempting to calm domestic panic about its dire economic situation. According to Iran’s state-run Tasnim News agency, Iranian gold prices skyrocketed to 45 million rials on Sunday and the price of the “Spring of Freedom” (or Bahar-e-Azadi) gold bullion coin, minted by the Central Bank of Iran, has almost doubled in the past two months. The coin, which was introduced by Iran’s Central Bank in 1979, “symbolizes the coming of freedom from the monarchy that was brought with the revolution.”
This has apparently done little to quell concerns that the Iranian economy is on the brink of collapse, in part due to the regime’s lavish investments in propping up proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and elsewhere.
In the midst of Iran’s currency freefall, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, Abolhassan Firouzabadi, announced on Sunday that digital currency will be made official in the country in the near future and that it will be regulated by the government.
“Decisions are pointing toward the launch of an official digital currency in Iran,” Firouzabadi reportedly said during the ELECOMP 2018 exhibition in Tehran. ELECOMP is described as “the greatest commercial event in Iran’s Market of Electronics and Computer Products and services.” According to Iran’s state-run Tasnim News agency, Firouzabai said the decision to introduce digital currency was made during a session of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace the night before.
However, “No decision has yet been made about which digital currency should be made official in Iran,” Firouzabadi said.