Ahmadinejad Claims to Leave $100B in Foreign Currency Reserves

Iranian president claims economic conditions in Iran are improving

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad / AP
July 8, 2013

Outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims to have left his successor with more than $100 billion in "foreign currency reserves," including significant gold reserves.

Ahmadinejad, who will be replaced by cleric Hassan Rowhani in August, made the announcement late last week on Iranian television, according to regional media reports.

"Our (foreign currency) reserves are over $100 billion, of course if we include gold reserves," Ahmadinejad said on Iranian television on Thursday, according to the Tehran Times.

Ahmadinejad said these monetary reserves are a "gift" from him to Rowhani.

"This is a gift from the current administration to the next administrations," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

The outgoing Iranian president’s declaration came just days before Iran’s central bank – which is under heavy economic sanctions by the West – devalued its currency against the dollar, according to reports.

One U.S. dollar is now comparable to 24,779 Iranian rials after the currency devaluation, marking a more then 100 percent jump, SKNVibes reported.

"The rial has lost more than two thirds of its value on the open market since early 2012, when the United States and the European Union imposed harsh economic sanctions curbing Iran's ability to export oil and conduct financial transactions," according to the report.

Ahmadinejad claims that during his tenure in office Iranians have seen their economic conditions improve, despite numerous reports indicating otherwise.

"People’s income increased by more than $3,000 and production has also been revived," he was quoted as saying on Sunday by Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency.

"Iran’s economy has become bigger and more powerful today, fluctuations (in prices and economic conditions) are more tolerable now and harsh sanctions have been harnessed, while we believe harsher sanctions can also be harnessed," Ahmadinejad claimed, according to Fars.

Iran has continued to export its valuable crude oil to nations like China, Japan, and even Afghanistan despite tough Western sanctions.

A Japanese trade envoy reportedly said on Sunday that "Tokyo continues oil imports from Iran despite the U.S.-led ban on the supply of crude from Iran," according to Fars.

Rowhani is expected to pursue significant economic reforms to help open up the Iranian free market and promote trade, according to analysts.

"During the campaign for president of Iran, Hassan Rowhani expressed views consistent with a liberal outlook on economy," Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy (ACD), wrote in a recent policy brief jointly issued with Israel Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

"The president-elect is an advocate of the economic policy pursued by former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, based on privatization, deregulation, and economic openness," according to the policy brief.

Rowhani will pursue "neo-liberal economic principles," according to the brief.

It is unclear how these policies will function with the sanctions currently imposed on Tehran.

Meanwhile, Iran’s military leaders said on Monday that Tehran would soon unveil new drones and missiles.

"Iran has recently made giant advancements in aerospace industries, specially in designing and manufacturing pilotless drones," Fars reported on Monday, citing senior Iranian military officials.

The military leaders said Iran has designed and manufactured its own "light, semi-heavy and heavy weapons, military tools and equipment," according to the report.