Iran denies forging American dollars

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - Iran yesterday denied allegations by Republican Congressional investigators that, abetted by Syria, it was staging a massive counterfeiting operation to produce billions of dollars of dollars 100 and dollars 20 bills, designed to boost the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and undermine the US economy, writes Rupert Cornwell. Iran's UN mission declared the Republican Party's Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare had not presented 'one scrap of credible evidence to support these wild hallucinations of the extreme right'.

According to the task force, the Iranian mint is using printing presses purchased during the Shah's rule and American-trained chemists to produce the bills, which are being distributed through the Third World. Congressman Bill McCollum of Florida said Tehran intended to print up to dollars 12bn (pounds 6.3bn) of counterfeit US currency a year, also to help cover its foreign currency shortfall.

The task force says the fake banknotes are being initially sold at half their face value, and have already surfaced in Middle East, Europe and the central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Syrian officials, it charges, are aiding their distribution through Syria and Lebanon. The investigators said boxes containing up to dollars 500,000 of bogus currency had been reported.