U.S. and European sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports and banking system over its nuclear program have put a chokehold on the economy, The Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday, October 16. The value of the national currency, the rial, has plummeted 40 percent, and inflation stands officially at nearly 24 percent. Experts say the real figure could be double that or more. More and more, lawmakers and ordinary Iranians blame the high inflation and unemployment as much on the government’s mishandling of the oil revenue windfall of recent years as on sanctions. As an oil exporter during a period of high oil prices, Iran should be flush with cash from pre-embargo sales that it could use to shield Iranians from the worst of the adverse effects of the sanctions. Instead, the government’s spendthrift ways on costly projects and cash handouts have left little protective buffer.