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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


Area (
1.648 million




Iranian rials

Mohammad Khatami-Ardakani

Update No: 046 - (27/09/05)

Trapped in Iran
As the debate on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program heated again in August and September, it looked increasingly as if the Bush Administration had set up for itself another trap in which to fall. By September with international oil prices hovering around US$60, any prospect of serious sanctions, or even worse military actions, against Iran appeared absurd. Moreover, the likelihood of sanctions of any sort being approved also appeared increasingly less likely, as serious opposition against a referral to the UN Security Council emerged within the board of the IAEA itself. During September both Iran and the US were very active lobbying the board members, but Iran seemed to be gaining the upper hand. The opposition to a referral of countries like Brazil and Pakistan was already taken for granted in early September, but more worryingly for the Bush Administration this seemed to be the case for Russia and China as well. As of mid-September there still seemed to be hope that India and South Africa, also inclined to oppose the referral, might be convinced to approve it, especially since in the case of India the Bush administration has threatened not to renew the US-India Nuclear cooperation program. On the other hand, after making of Iran's nuclear program one of its battle horses in the international arena, letting Iran slip through would amount to a major loss of face for Bush and his administration.

Friction among the conservatives
By the end of August new president elect Ahmadinejad had managed to get most of his cabinet through the hurdle of parliamentary approval, but not without losses. Four of the ministers he had proposed were rejected. The most noticeable rejection was that of Oil Minister Saidloo, but the candidate ministers for cooperation, education and welfare were also rejected. The candidate Interior Minister was also criticised for his past in the intelligence service, but managed to get through. During the parliamentary debate, the main reasons stated for the rejection were the lack of professional competence of the candidates. In the case of Saidloo, it was argued that the Oil Ministry of one of the world's main oil producers deserved a better candidate. However, these rejections can also be read as a sign of uneasiness among the ranks of old generation conservatives, who feel excluded from the new cabinet. 
On 21 August Ahmadinejad presented his program to the parliament, a program which can be characterised as nationalistic in tone. He called for greater cooperation among non-aligned countries. Five of his ministers have a background in the revolutionary Guards and one of Ahmadinejad's first acts is likely to be the granting of police powers to the Basij paramilitary force, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. According to sources close to Ahmadinejad, their role would be the enforcement of the laws against "decadent behaviour". 

Three, four… countless reformist parties
Between September and August former presidential candidate Mehdi Kharrubi created his new political party, National Trust, after quitting the Militant Clerics Association over its failure to support him in the elections. The new party is not an exclusively clerical one like the Association, but is open to all. Moderate reformers close to former president Rafsanjani are on the other hand discussing the formation of a Moderation Front, while the old Executives of Construction Party, the first pro-Rafsanjani group to be created, appears to be in crisis and is expelling some of its members. The disarray of the reformist groups is being exploited by Ahmadinejad, who has announced his own plan to woo the youth away from them. A US$1.3 billion "love fund" will be created to help low-income couples to marry. 

Revenge begins?
At the end of August the National Iranian Oil Company announced that the activities of two companies would be suspended due to allegations of bribery and corruption. One of the two companies is Halliburton, likely punished because of its announcement that it will withdraw from Iran in compliance with US sanctions. Oriental Oil, the other company, might be targeted for its connection with the Rafsanjani family, Ahmadinejad's opponent in the second round of the presidential elections. Ahmadinejad has announced at the time of the elections that he would clean up the oil ministry. 
Despite the problems surrounding the oil ministry, in September some good news also emerged. The long dormant plan to build a gas pipeline between Iran, Pakistan and India seems to have new chances of being implemented, after India and Pakistan confirmed their interest. 

Positive outlook
The Central Bank of Iran released in September its forecasts for GDP growth in Iran, which range from 5.5% to 7%, roughly in line with the forecasts of the World Bank. Given the high oil prices, there is little dispute that Iran's economy should record substantial growth this year. The Central Bank also reported that consumer price inflation is slowing. The year-on-year figure to July 22 was indicated as 11.7%, a marked improvement on June's figure, when it stood at 13.7%. Consumer prices in fact fell by 0.8% in July. This means that the government's inflation target of 15.4% was beaten.

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Iran, Ukraine to expand agricultural relations 

On August 22nd Iran's Ambassador and the country's Minister of Agrarian Policy, Alexander Baranovskiy, discussed various ways of expanding mutual relations in the domain of agriculture, New Europe reported.
Baranovskiy said, "Given the variety of agricultural production in Ukraine, in particular corn, we are interested in cooperating with Iran in the field of export of such products." The Iranian diplomat welcomed expansion of collaboration in the field and hoped that the Ukrainian partner would present high-quality products at competitive prices. Expressing his approval, the minister called for another meeting in Kiev to be attended.

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Iran, Uzbekistan sign economic MoU 

Iran and Uzbekistan recently signed a memorandum of understanding on expansion of economic cooperation in various fields, reported Interfax News Agency.
The MoU was signed by head of the chamber of commerce of this central province, Saeed Gorgbandi, and visiting Uzbekistan's deputy chairman of the chamber of commerce and industries, Nabijon Kasymov. Kasymov was on a three day visit to Iran. Under the terms of the MoU, both sides expressed willingness to exchange trade and executive delegations, promote joint venture, hold specialised exhibitions of the potentials of Markazi province in Tashkent and support private sector to bolster trade and economic relations.
Kasymov said the province enjoys great potentials in various areas of industry, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and electronic equipment. During the visit, Uzbek tradesmen and industrialists inspected factories and industries in the cities of Arak and Saveh. Kasymov added that both sides explored avenues for bolstering cooperation in aluminium industries, bicycle manufacturing and joint production of industrial equipment. 

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Iranian businessmen discuss ties with Tajikistan 

A 70-member Iranian industrial and trade delegation arrived in Tajikistan to attend Iran's fourth exclusive exhibition in Dushanbe. The five-day fair began on August 25th in which 45 Iranian industrial and manufacturing concerns displayed their products. The head of the Iranian exhibition, Ali Khaksar, said that about 90 per cent of the delegation members were Iranian private companies management and directors. Khaksar said the delegation members discussed expansion of industrial and trade ties as well as establishing various joint ventures with Tajik private and government officials, New Europe reported.
During their stay in Dushanbe, the Iranian delegation also signed several agreements. He added that all the preparatory work has been completed to hold the exhibition. At the beginning of the meeting, the former Commerce Minister, Mohammad Shariatmadari, described the bilateral relations as "strategic and of great importance," adding that these relations have an old record. He said, "The Iranian delegation, including public sector directors, businessmen, merchants and industrial managers have held primary discussions with their Tajik counterparts." The sixth meeting of Iran-Tajikistan joint economic commission was held in Dushanbe in July. 
Tajik Minister of Economy and Trade, Hakim Salehov, was also pleased over economic cooperation between the two nations and the expansion of comprehensive ties, saying that "the bilateral cooperation between our two nations in recent years has led to very good and acceptable developments." He called Iran's investments in a hydro-power plant.

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