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Key Economic Data 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
Millions of US $ 107,522 114,100 101,600 34
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,710 1,680 1,650 115
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Iran


Area (
1.648 million



Iranian rials

Mohammad Khatami-Ardakani


Update No: 037 - (01/01/05)

The search for a presidential candidate goes on
The debate on which presidential candidate to choose continued in December, with more hopefuls entering the context, even if the date of the elections has not been set yet. At least 16 small moderate reformist parties offered their support to Rafsanjani, but other moderate reformists expressed doubts about his candidature, mainly because having already been president once he would only be able to complete a single term if successful. The law limits the number of terms which a president can serve. Mustafa Moin, the leading reformist candidate-to-be, was first reported to have agreed to be a candidate for the two main reformist groups and then to be wavering about the prospect. Most reformist remain keen on Moin, not least because his candidature is believed to be likely to be approved by the Guardians Council, which has vetting power on all candidatures. Some reformists put forwards the name of Asqar Musavi-Khoeniha, a moderate reformist who is one of the leaders of a third group of reformers, the Militant Clerics Association, who however does not appear too keen, while others suggested Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the Ayatollah. One of the main "selling points" of the latter is that he could attract conservative voters too. 
On the conservative front, there are now already two official candidates, Ahmad Tavakoli, a member of parliament from Teheran, and Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister. The numbers might grow, as the mayor of Teheran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, is being pushed to run by the new generation of conservatives which controls the parliament, while there are also rumours that Mohamad Baqer Qalibaf, a general of the Revolutionary Guards, is also considering to run.

US pressure bound to grow?
As expected, the deal with the European countries on its nuclear program is not shielding Iran from US criticism. On the one hand, the Bush Administration is asking that sanctions be automatically implemented if Iran resumes work on the part of its nuclear program which is susceptible to lead to the production of an atomic bomb. On the other, the US does not like the idea that the production of plutonium is not covered by the current deal. The Iranian, on the other hand, are likely mostly intent on buying time and declare it unacceptable that the text of the agreement include the possibility of an automatic referral to the Security Council of the UN. Whatever the final outcome of the debate on the Iranian nuclear program, US pressure is likely to increase anyway. The new Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, appears keen to raise a number of issues in the near future and is allegedly organising a major campaign on the violation of human rights in Iran. The Bush Administration might well increase its support for the Iranian illegal opposition. The Iranians likely fear this more than any campaign against their nuclear program. In fact, during December they repeatedly added fuel to the fire of the nuclear debate, stressing that the suspension of the uranium enrichment program was only temporary and even asking to be allowed to keep running 24 centrifuges for "research purposes". 
No doubt US hostility will make itself felt in mid-December, when Iran's application to join the WTO is scheduled to be examined. Even if Teheran is optimistic because it expects European support following the deal on the nuclear program, the Bush Administration has already made clear that it will support the applications of Iraq and Afghanistan, but not that of Iran.

What about long-term growth?
Although Iran is experiencing a year of strong growth, it should not be forgotten that this is essentially due to high oil prices and a good agricultural harvest, both likely to be temporary conditions which are not the result of any successful reform or large scale investment. Whatever investment has taken place has so far been limited to the energy and automotive sectors and transfer of technology has been very limited. The prospect for successful reform appears if anything to be receding. Increasingly the newly elected conservative parliamentarians attack foreign investment and privatisation. While the conservatives had campaigned for economic liberalisation without political freedom, in many cases this appears to have been a ruse to attract voters. Many members of the "Developers" party have in fact a background in the Revolutionary Guards and look increasingly different from the pragmatic outlook displayed by their more moderate colleagues within the party. 

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Iran-Turkey trade exchange boom

The value of Iran-Turkey trade exchanges is expected to increase up to €50m by the end of 2005, Anadolu News Agency reported.
According to bilateral agreement signed by Iran and Turkey during the Turkish prime minister's visit to Iran, border trade of the two sides have increased to an eye-catching level. A source noted that the two sides have reviewed the list of importable and exportable goods and decreased the customs expenses to encourage border trade among Iran and Turkey. 

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