Iran Makes First Cryptocurrency Import Order: Report

Iran this week placed its first official cryptocurrency import order, the semi-official Tasnim agency reported Tuesday, a move that could allow the Islamic Republic to bypass U.S. sanctions that have crippled the economy.

The $10 million order was a first step in allowing the country to trade digital assets that bypass the dollar-dominated global financial system and trade with other countries similarly restricted by US sanctions , like 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 in foreign trade with destination countries will be widespread,” an official at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade 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. Tehran is one of the largest economies yet to adopt cryptocurrency technology, which emerged in 2008 as a payment tool aimed at undermining government control over finances and economies.

Last year, a study found that 4.5% of all bitcoin mining took place in Iran, partly due to the country’s cheap electricity. Cryptocurrency mining could help Iran earn hundreds of millions of dollars that can be used to buy imports and mitigate the effects of sanctions.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are very volatile, making them impractical for large-scale payments.

The European Union said on Monday it had presented “final” text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as four days of indirect talks between US and Iranian officials in Vienna concluded.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of US, EU and UN sanctions. But former US President Donald Trump reneged on the nuclear deal in 2018 and restored tough US sanctions, prompting Tehran to start violating the deal’s nuclear limits about a year later.

The Central African Republic (CAR), one of the poorest countries in the world, has also embraced crypto. It became the first African state to make bitcoin legal tender in April and launched its own digital coin last month.

El Salvador also adopted Bitcoin as legal tender last year, though the project has been plagued by public skepticism amid falling crypto prices.

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