TEHRAN: Iran will not back down on its nuclear programme despite the problems caused by western sanctions, including a dramatic slide in the value of its currency, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.

“We are not a people to retreat on the nuclear issue,” he told a news conference in Tehran.

“If somebody thinks they can pressure Iran, they are certainly wrong and they must correct their behaviour,” he said.

Ahmadinejad’s comments came amid an accelerated slide in Iran’s currency, which has now lost more than 80 per cent of its value compared to a year ago — with 17 per cent of its value shed on Monday alone.

The currency, the rial, slipped another four per cent on Tuesday to close at 36,100 to the dollar, according to exchange tracking websites.

Ahmadinejad said the plunge was part of an economic “war” waged by the West on the Islamic republic and “a psychological war on the exchange market.” Iran, he said, had sufficient foreign currency reserves.

Those reserves were estimated at around $100bn at the end of last year, thanks to surging oil exports. But the US Treasury, which is monitoring the sanctions, believes Iran’s foreign earnings have been cut by $5bn a month under the western economic measures.—AFP

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