Tensions between Iran and the United States have been simmering since Washington decided to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 and reinstated all sanctions against the Islamic Republic, with a stated goal of bringing its oil exports to zero.
Speaking at a high school event in Tehran on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that much of the United States’ economic influence would “go away” if countries around the world were to ditch the dollar as the basis for their international trade.
“America’s power rests on the dollar; a great part of America’s economic power will go away if countries eliminate the dollar from their economic systems”, the minister said.
In awe of these 8th graders, whose final exam was to play the role of Iran & major powers amid Iran-US diplomatic, economic, cultural, scientific & military row.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 9, 2019
Zarif went on to say that Washington was trying to beef up pressure on Tehran “out of desperation” and slammed the US-led economic war as “economic terrorism”.
“It amounts, by definition, to economic terrorism because the United States is putting pressure in terms of what its president calls warfare on normal ordinary Iranians in order to change the policies of their government”, he told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
The Iranian minister is not the only high-ranking official to have slammed the US dollar in recent days; on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that after becoming the global reserve currency, the dollar has turned into a “tool for the issuing country to put pressure on the rest if the world”.
“Countries that used to preach free trade with fair and open competition now use the language of trade war and sanctions; they use blatant economic raiding, intimidation, and any non-market methods to eliminate competition”, Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
The developments come against the backdrop of a new set of US sanctions on Tehran’s petrochemical sector, targeting the country’s largest holding group, Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, among other firms.
The current US administration stepped up pressure on Iran since pulling out from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, on 8 May 2018 and reinstated all sanctions against Tehran.
Last month, Washington upped the ante by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran. In addition, President Donald Trump has confirmed that the Pentagon will deploy 1,500 more troops to the region.
Tehran, meanwhile, announced that it would partially suspend its commitments under the nuclear deal, having set a 60-day deadline for the five remaining signatories to the deal – Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany – to ensure that Iranian interests are protected or else the country would resume enriching uranium at higher levels.