Iran to issue new banknote with atomic symbol

Updated: 2007-03-04 21:48
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Iran, embroiled in a row with the West over its nuclear ambitions, will issue a new banknote this month carrying an atomic symbol, newspapers reported on Sunday.

The new note for 50,000 rials, worth the equivalent of about $5.40, will be the largest in circulation when it becomes available on March 12.

Images of the banknote published in newspapers showed one side with an atomic symbol of electrons in orbit. The other side carried a picture of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, like other notes.

Iran is facing mounting pressure over its nuclear plans, which the West says is a project to build atomic bombs despite Tehran's insistence its aims are peaceful.

A central bank official was quoted by the business daily Poul as saying 50 to 60 designs were put forward before the current design was chosen by Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari. It did not give a reason for his choice.

The biggest note now in circulation is for 20,000 rials, worth a little more than $2.

With inflation officially running at about 16 percent -- which economists say underestimates price rises for the goods most people worry about -- Iranians carry increasingly large quantities of notes even for relatively modest shopping trips.

Some Iranian banks issue travellers cheques for bigger denominations which are accepted by some outlets like cash. Some shops also accept Iranian credit cards, but international cards are not widely accepted.

($1=9,250 rials)