Reuters: Iran’s central bank governor said Tehran had plans to end the sale of its oil in dollars completely, state television reported on Friday, part of a move to protect the Islamic Republic from mounting U.S. pressure. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s central bank governor said Tehran had plans to end the sale of its oil in dollars completely, state television reported on Friday, part of a move to protect the Islamic Republic from mounting U.S. pressure.
Washington is leading efforts to isolate Iran over a nuclear program which the West says is aimed at building atomic bombs despite Tehran’s denials. Tensions with the West have increased with a row over Iran’s detention of British naval personnel.
A big Iranian state bank has been targeted under U.N. sanctions passed this month, the second resolution since December. U.S. officials suggested on Thursday Iran’s dependence on gasoline imports might be a target in future.
“Iran has plans to stop selling its oil in dollars completely,” Governor Ebrahim Sheibani was quoted as saying. The report did not say when the plan would come into effect.
Iranian officials have previously said the world’s fourth largest oil exporter is seeking more oil revenues in currencies other than the dollar. A Iranian oil official told Reuters this month 60 percent of Iran’s crude income was now in other units.
Central bank and other officials have also said Iranian oil was still being sold based on the international dollar price even if payment was being requested in other currencies.
Iran’s shift out of oil sales in dollars has accelerated a fall in the dollar portion of Iran’s foreign reserves, which Sheibani has said was now at a minimum of about 20 percent.
But Iran’s central bank has said it still needs to keep some reserves in dollars to meet some dollar trade requirements.
Iran has to import about 40 percent of its gasoline needs because it lacks refining capacity. Western diplomats have said they do not plan to target these imports, even though it is a vulnerable point, because it would hurt ordinary Iranians most.
But UnderSecretary of State Nicholas Burns on Thursday raised the specter of sanctions by saying it was a “point of leverage” for Washington. A U.S. official said targeting fuel imports was unlikely in any third round of sanctions.
Sheibani was also quoted by state television as repeating remarks made this month saying the country had enough reserves “to prevent major shocks in (its) economy”.
He did not give the level of Iran’s reserves, a figure which is not officially released.
Sanctions have been imposed on Iran for its failure to heed U.N. calls to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can make both fuel for power stations or, if Iran wanted, material for warheads.