News US Lawmakers Seek Sanctions Against Iran's Cryptocurrency Efforts

US Lawmakers Seek Sanctions Against Iran’s Cryptocurrency Efforts

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A bill introduced this week in Congress takes a hard line on Iran’s efforts to develop its own cryptocurrency.

U.S. regulators have warned in recent months that Iran’s government wants to use a sovereign cryptocurrency, similar to the petro in Venezuela, to evade economic sanctions.

Portions of the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), call for a report on Iran’s efforts to create a sovereign cryptocurrency. A corresponding bill was submitted in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The proposals call for sanctions against those who knowingly provide Iran with funding, services or “technological support, used in connection with the development of Iranian digital currency.”

The move comes in context of the Trump administration’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Withdrawing from the JCPOA was only the first step in ratcheting up pressure on the Iranian regime,” Gallagher said in a statement. “We now have an important window to impose maximum economic pressure and degrade the Iranian regime’s ability to export violence across the region. This legislation does exactly that by effectively cutting Iran off from the international financial community.”

Iran has been in the news for a number of cryptocurrency-related issues in recent weeks.

Earlier this week an Iranian government official talked up the positives of embracing blockchain. Cheap electricity in the Islamic Republic has made Iran a hot destination for bitcoin mining farms.

Meanwhile, recently-released U.S. sanctions have ensnared Iranian bitcoin traders, one of whom later told CoinDesk that he’s innocent.

Iranian rial image via Shutterstock

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