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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 136,833 107,522 114,100 34
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,000 1,710 1,680 110
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Iran

Update No: 061 - (20/12/06)

A warning for Ahmadinejad
The elections to the Council of Experts were in part pre-determined by the vetting of the Guardian Council, which ruled out many reformists and supporters of President Ahmadinejad. The victory of moderate conservatives is therefore not very surprising. Former President Rafsanjani topped by the far the list of the elected representatives, but this too is not so surprising considering that he was the best known of the candidates and that he had received millions of votes as a Presidential candidate earlier. The local elections which took place at the same time are somewhat more indicative of the mood of the population. It would appear that the electorate opted to issue a strong warning to the President and the government. Although Ahmadinejad's group was not wiped out, its ambitions to expand its influence in the representative bodies were frustrated and it may even have suffered substantial losses. Undoubtedly, Qalibaf's moderate conservatives did well, while the reformers regained some ground. In Teheran, Ahmadinejad's group appeared poised to get less than a third of the seats, according to partial results, while Qalibaf's group seemed to be securing a majority. Qalibaf had enjoyed the support of Supreme Leader Khamenei in the 2005 Presidential elections, but had failed to make it to the second round. He is now Teheran's mayor and the voters seem to have rewarded his dynamic style of administration. Qalibaf will now be emboldened in using the mayorship as a launch platform for the next Presidential campaign, just as Ahmadinejad did. 

Changes in the Ministries
While Ahmadinejad was weakened by the double vote, he might also consider it as a warning that he has to readjust his policies, or improve the efficiency of his government. In fact, he was already busy making changes to his administration before the elections. Two new minister were approved by the parliament in November, Cooperatives Minister Mohammad Abbasi and Welfare and Social Security Minister Abdul Reza Mesri. Mesri's predecessor had been heavily criticised for his lack of skills and experience and for hiring incompetent people, as well for his inability to exercise control over the Social Security Organisation. Other Ministers appear to be in a shaky position, either because they are politically suspect or because they failed to deliver to Ahmadinejad. The list includes the Minister of Roads and Transport and the Minister of Commerce. Many changes have also occurred in the middle ranks of the administration, particularly in the management and Planning Organisation, in the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Oil Ministry, the Commerce Ministry and the Central Bank. The Parliament, moreover, is not happy about the performance of the Ministers of Interior, Agriculture, Education and Energy and might take action soon. 

Expecting sanctions
With the Bush Administration in a weakened position and enduring Russian and Chinese support within the UN Security Council, the Iranian government felt confident enough to leak information that it is actually accelerating its nuclear programme, with a second cascade of centrifuges being activated in October. In December Russia and China responded with caution to US and European calls for a quick UN Security Council vote on the draft resolution imposing sanctions on Iran. Russia in particular objected to certain aspects of the draft, such as the travel ban and the freezing of assets belonging to a list of Iranian citizens, despite intensive lobbying by Condoleeza Rice. Many within the Iranian political elite seem convinced that 'mild' sanctions will be imposed at some point, but they do not seem unduly worried about it, or at least say so in public. The expectation is that sanctions will be symbolic and aimed mainly at saving face for the Bush Administration. The Iranians seem also convinced that a number of states, including European ones, will be enforcing any sanctions only loosely.

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