Iran's revolution: 30 years on

Iran's revolution: 30 years on

President Ahmadinejad.

In 1979 the Shah of Iran departed and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to be greeted at the airport in Tehran by millions of Iranians - and it felt like the world shook.

To many observers, it still feels like that. It was a revolution against American authority in the region, and a revolution which still resounds, not least through the voice of President Ahmadinejad.

Listen Listen to President Ahmadinejad (28 secs)

End of Section

View from Tehran

The Iranian revolution was undoubtedly a social and political upheaval, but what about the lives of ordinary Iranians?

Our Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne now reports on an economy which has high unemployment and 26% inflation despite its great oil wealth.

Listen Hear Jon Leyne's report from the streets of Tehran (2 mins 26 secs)

End of Section

Spending cuts

Iranian oil worker

Oil and gas make up 70% of the government's revenue and 80% of Iran's exports. The up-side is that the revenue rolled in when the price of oil was high so the country amassed $80bn in foreign currency reserves. But now that the price has fallen from its high of about $140 a barrel to about $40, the revenue has dried up accordingly.

Ali Pahlavan works for an engineering company in Tehran, told Business Daily's Steve Evans how companies have felt the tightening of public spending.

Listen Listen to Ali Pahlavan's interview (4 mins 20 secs)

End of Section

Impact of sanctions

On top of the recession and falling oil prices, Iran also has to grapple with sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations.

The US ones prohibit American citizens from having dealings with Iran. They also make it hard for oil and gas companies to invest in Iran and get American business; and also mean a ban on selling aircraft and spare parts to Iranian aviation companies.

The UN sanctions were imposed because of Iran's alleged attempts to develop nuclear weapons by enriching uranium, something it denies. Under them, the foreign assets of 13 Iranian companies are frozen, some Iranian officials are banned from travelling abroad the sale of products with a possible military use are forbidden.

Mehrdad Emadi-Moghadam teaches economics at Staffordshire University, England, and advises the European Union. He explained about the impact of the sanctions.

Listen Hear Mehrdad Emadi-Moghadam (4 mins 37 secs)

End of Section

Democratic pressures

Demonstration in Iran

As the economy of Iran grapples with the lower oil price, there's the question of how that feeds through into politics. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is one of the world's most influential newspaper columnists.

His says that in what he labels "petrolist states", which are those authoritarian states with the good fortune to have oil in the ground - his first "law" of "petro-politics" is that as the price of oil goes up, the pace of freedom slows down.

To put it another way, as the price of oil falls the pressure for democracy climbs.

Listen Listen to Thomas Friedman (2 mins 22 secs)

End of Section

First broadcast on Business Daily on 18 February 2009