News Summary: Iran president deflects criticism

UNDER PRESSURE: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the steep drop in Iran's currency on "psychological pressures" linked to Western sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program and Iran's increasingly bitter political battles.

REAL DECLINE: The remarks were part of Ahmadinejad's attempt to deflect criticism from political rivals that his government's policies also have contributed the decline of the rial, which has lost more than half its value against the U.S. dollar this year, increasing the cost of imported goods.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Iran's economy is struggling with tougher sanctions targeting its crucial oil exports and measures blocking it from key international banking networks.