His comments followed the collapse of the Iranian rial, whose value fell by over one-third from a week earlier. On the free market it hit an historic record low of $1=IR37,500 on 2 October from about $1= IR24,600 just eight days earlier, and was expected to fall further unless the monetary authorities succeed in changing market sentiment and convincing people that effective measures are being taken to arrest the slide.

In addition to the free market rate, Iran has set an official or reference rate of $1=IR12,260 applicable to imports of medicines and basic foodstuffs only. The floating free market rate, which last week valued the rial at three times lower than the official rate, is applicable to other imports and foreign exchange needs. The situation became so bad last week that money changers halted trading in the US currency and Iranian websites, which usually gave an indication of the value of the dollar, stopped quoting a rial-dollar exchange rate. (CONTINUED - 1068 WORDS)