Iran’s currency dropped to its lowest value against the dollar on Tuesday, after weeks of nationwide unrest roiling the country. A stalemate in negotiations to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers has also weighed heavily on the rial.
Traders in Tehran exchanged the rial at 338,000 to the dollar, up from 332,200 on Monday. Iran’s currency was trading at 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of the 2015 nuclear accord that lifted international sanctions in exchange for tight curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The rial’s new low comes amid protests first sparked by the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police. She was detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
The demonstrations have swept the country, morphing into one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s ruling clerics since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Security forces have sought to quash dissent, killing at least 270 people and arresting some 14,000, according to rights groups.
Protesters have targeted Iran’s state-mandated headscarf, or hijab, for women. But the sickly state of Iran’s economy is also a main force driving Iranians into the streets. Soaring prices, high unemployment and corruption have fueled the unrest.
The Iran nuclear deal has been teetering toward collapse since talks stalled months ago. After protests erupted, the United States and European Union imposed additional sanctions on Iran for its brutal treatment of demonstrators and its decision to send hundreds of drones to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine.
The White House has faced growing pressure to scuttle the deal altogether. The U.S. special envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, said on Monday that the administration “makes no apology” for its refusal to declare the deal dead.
Iran’s economy has deteriorated significantly since former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in 2018 and restored suffocating sanctions on Iran’s crucial oil and banking sectors.