- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2007

TEHRAN (AP) — Iran issued a bank note emblazoned with a nuclear symbol yesterday, in a move seen as an assertion of the national will in the face of international sanctions over its insistence on enriching uranium.

The new note for 50,000 rials, about $5.40, also reflected rising inflation, a fact that has brought criticism of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies. It is worth more than twice the previously highest denomination note.

The note is printed in orange, green and blue and shows a nuclear symbol — electrons flying around a nucleus — on a map of Iran. A brief text next to the symbol gives a quote from Islam’s prophet Muhammad: “Men from the land of Persia will attain scientific knowledge even if it is as far as the Pleiades.” Pleiades is a cluster of stars.

In conformity with the law, the note also bears a portrait of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State television said the Central Bank had issued 6 million of the new notes and will introduce another 6 million within the next two weeks.

The nuclear program is a source of national pride in Iran. Even government opponents support the program. However in recent months, reformists and conservatives have criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad’s harsh rhetoric, saying it has brought more harm than good.

The United States and some of its European allies have accused Iran of seeking uranium enrichment as a part of a secret program to build nuclear weapons.

Enriched uranium is used as fuel in nuclear reactors; but if enriched to a higher level, it can be used in atomic bombs.

Iran denies that it is trying to build nuclear bombs, saying its program is strictly limited to generating electricity.

The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran in December after it ignored a resolution demanding that it halt enrichment.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany are considering more sanctions against Iran.

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