May 12 (Reuters) – The Iranian rial hit its lowest rate against the U.S. dollar since September 2018 on the unofficial market on Tuesday, a foreign exchange website reported, amid a deterioration in the economic situation brought on by crippling U.S. sanctions and restrictions to deal with the new coronavirus outbreak.

The dollar was being offered for as much as 170,000 rials, according to website which tracks the unofficial market. The official rate, cited by the central bank website, is 42,000.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral deal aimed at curbing Iran‘s nuclear program in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said on Sunday that U.S. sanctions, the coronavirus outbreak, a drop in oil prices and a slump in the global economy had caused “perilous conditions” for Iran‘s economy.

Iran, one of the countries in the Middle East hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, has begun easing restrictions on normal life in order to support its economy.

Health officials have repeatedly warned, however, that easing restrictions could lead to a renewed spike in the number of infections.

Iranian officials have said that the U.S. sanctions have hampered their efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The rial lost about 70 percent of its value over several months in 2018 because of a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who feared Washington’s pullout from the nuclear deal and renewed sanctions could shrink Iran’s exports of oil and other goods.

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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