DUBAI, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Iran this week made its first official import order using cryptocurrencies, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Tuesday, a move that could allow the Islamic Republic to circumvent U.S. sanctions that have crippled the economy.
The order, worth $10 million, was a first step in allowing the country to trade via digital assets that bypass the dollar-dominated global financial system and to trade with other countries similarly constrained by US sanctions, such as Russia. . The agency did not specify which cryptocurrency was used in the transaction.
“By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widely used in foreign trade with target countries,” an official from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Commerce said on Twitter.
The United States imposes a near-total economic embargo on Iran, including a ban on all imports, including those from the country’s oil, banking and shipping sectors.
Last year, a study revealed that 4.5% of all bitcoin mining took place in Iran, partly as a result of the country’s cheap electricity. Cryptocurrency mining could help Iran earn hundreds of millions of dollars that can be used to buy imports and lessen the impact of sanctions.
Cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, are very volatile and have not been widely used for payments.
The European Union said on Monday it had submitted a “final” text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, at the end of four days of indirect talks between US and Iranian officials in Vienna.
Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from US, EU and UN sanctions.
However, former US President Donald Trump reneged on the nuclear deal in 2018 and reinstated harsh US sanctions, causing Tehran to begin violating the deal’s nuclear limits about a year later.
(Dubai Newsroom Report; Editing by Michael Georgy and Bernadette Baum; Spanish Editing by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)