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Iran Announces First Official Import Settled in Cryptocurrency

Key Takeaways

  • Iran has made its first official import using cryptocurrency.
  • The country’s vice minister of Industry, Mine, and Trade, Alireza Peyman-Pak, said that cryptocurrencies and smart contracts would become commonplace in Iran’s foreign trade by the end of September.
  • Iran’s announcement comes a day after the U.S. Treasury added the privacy-preserving Ethereum protocol Tornado Cash to its sanctions list.

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Iran’s Payman-Pak didn’t reveal any details about the imported goods or the specific cryptocurrency used in the transaction.

Iran Makes First Import Using Cryptocurrency

Iran has revealed its first use of cryptocurrency in international trade to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

Alireza Peyman-Pak, Iran’s vice minister of Industry, Mine, and Trade and president of the Trade Promotion Organization, revealed on Twitter today that the country had made its first international import order using cryptocurrency. “This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with #cryptocurrency worth 10 million dollars,” he wrote, adding that using cryptocurrencies and smart contracts would become commonplace in Iran’s foreign trade by the end of September.

The U.S. imposed strict economic sanctions against Iran in 1979 in alleged response to its nuclear program and support of various organizations that America considers terrorists. Since then, Iran has been unable to access the dollar-denominated global financial system to trade with other countries.

Now, in a likely bid to circumvent the sanctions and escape the U.S.-controlled international payment systems, Iran has turned to using cryptocurrency systems where payments cannot be censored at anyone’s whim. Last month, Reuters reported that the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, had allegedly been serving Iranian citizens despite the U.S. sanctions, which suggests that Iranians were using crypto long before the government decided to take steps toward adopting the technology.

Iran’s announcement comes a day after the U.S. Treasury Department added Tornado Cash’s website and smart contracts to its sanctions list—effectively banning all U.S. residents from using the privacy-preserving protocol under the threat of criminal prosecution. Yesterday’s move represents the first time the U.S. has sanctioned a piece of code instead of natural or legal persons, raising questions among free speech and privacy advocates about the legality of such an action.

Iran has not revealed any specifics about the trade, including details about the imported goods, the counterpart country, or the specific cryptocurrency used to settle the $10 million transaction.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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