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. Iran touts nuclear prowess with new banknote
TEHRAN, March 3 (AFP) Mar 03, 2007
Iran is to issue a new high-denomination banknote marking the country's achievements in nuclear technology at a time of mounting tension with the West over its atomic programme, the IRNA agency reported Saturday.

The new 50,000 rial note -- at around five dollars worth more than twice the value of any other note in circulation -- sports a picture of the standard nuclear insignia of electrons in orbit around an atom.

"If the science exists in this constellation, men from Persia will reach it," says the calligraphic legend beside the atomic orbit, quoting a saying (Hadith) from the Prophet Mohammed.

On the front of the note is a picture of the Islamic republic's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which according to the law must be on all Iranian currency.

Iran has defied UN demands for a halt to sensitive nuclear activities and instead has pressed on with its atomic programme which has become a source of national pride.

The head of printing at the Islamic republic's central bank, Jalal Jalilian, denied there was any link between the issuing of the note and rising prices of basic foodstuffs in Iran.

"Bank notes are a medium of exchange and (their printing) has nothing to do with depreciation of the national currency," he said.

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been criticised by economists for expansionary policies that risk fuelling inflation. Prices of poultry, red meat and vegetables have risen in recent months.

The official rate of inflation is put at around 13 percent although unofficial rates put the figure much higher.

Jalilian said that the new notes would be circulated on March 12 ahead of the Iranian new year which commences on March 21.

"In the first phase six million bills will be printed and before the end of the year another six million notes will be printed. Its printing will continue next year too," Jalilian said.

The note is the first new bill issued since February 2004 when Iran's Central Bank introduced a 20,000 rial bill. A dollar is now worth roughly 9,300 rials. Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution it stood at 70 rials.

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