Published: Sat, November 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

One killed in Iran protests against fuel price hike

One killed in Iran protests against fuel price hike

Authorities have imposed rationing and elevated the selling prices of gas. The U.S. withdrew from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers past year, and re-imposed crippling trade sanctions that have sent the Iranian economy into free-fall.

Protests struck quite a few Iranian metropolitan areas early Saturday above the governing administration slicing back on gasoline subsidies and rising charges by 50%, demonstrations ranging from individuals abandoning their autos in traffic to attempting to assault an oil depot in one town. The Iranian government has no intention of receiving any of the revenue despite the country's economic woes, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran faces stiff sanctions on oil exports after the U.S. pulled out of a nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. The accord is unraveling just after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from it about a calendar year back, elevating tensions throughout the broader Mideast.

Police fired tear gas at protesters in some cities, state television said, without specifying when.

Such protests require prior approval from Iran's Interior Ministry, though authorities routinely allow small-scale demonstrations over economic issues, especially as the country has struggled with currency devaluation.

Acting governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi said some people had exploited the "calm gathering" and had destroyed public property and damaged fuel stations.

Videos on social media showed riot police firing teargas and using clubs to disperse protesters in several cities. Another showed a large crowd shouting: "Rouhani, shame on you. Depart the region by yourself!"

Police were deployed near gas stations to keep order. Iranian state television aired a segment Friday night trying to dispute the claims of opposition satellite news channels about the protests, calling their videos of demonstrations "fake news" in English.

At Iran's behest, neighboring Iraq closed its southern border to travelers on Saturday due to protests taking place simultaneously in both countries, Reuters reports. It arrived soon after months of speculation over attainable rationing.

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Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, head of the Planning and Budget Organization, said on Thursday that proceeds from the price hikes would be used to fund additional subsidies for 18 million underprivileged families, or about 60 million people.

Inflation has also spiked, due in part to US sanctions, and many fear the fuel-price increase will also lead to a jump in the prices of other basic goods.

Prices for taxis and ambulances will also be at 12.7 cents a liter for up to 500 liters. A gallon of common gasoline in the US costs $two.60 by comparison.

The monthly ration for each private auto was set at 60 litres.

Previously, drivers were allowed up to 250 liters at 8 cents per liter, or 10,000 rials.

Nevertheless, Iran has seen a tenfold decrease in oil exports and sales since the USA withdrawal, and has sold its fuel through non-traditional methods, including an online energy exchange, which on Monday recorded its largest sale yet of 60,000 tons of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) for Dollars 23 million. Iranians long have felt subsidized gasoline was one of the only benefits it saw from its reserves.

Iran long has suffered economic problems since its 1979 Islamic Revolution cut off its decades-long relationship with the US.

The collapse of the nuclear offer has exacerbated people challenges. The Iranian rial, which traded at 32,000 to $1 at the time of the accord, fell to 120,000 to $1 in trading Saturday. The NIOPDC announcement was met by protests in major Iranian cities, including Shiraz and Mashhad.

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