US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended Washington’s use of the dollar in sanctions on other nations, describing aggressive economic restrictions such as those levied against the Islamic Republic as a replacement for direct military clash with Tehran.
Mnuchin, commenting on tough US embargoes on Iran and its “maximum pressure" campaign with CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Doha Forum in Qatar, said that such a policy has long proven effective.
“People don’t have to use the dollar, we have the right to put restrictions on people using the dollar,” he said in reference to what Washington’s critics such as China and Russia deem as the US weaponization of its currency in arm-twisting against nonconforming states.
Officials in China and Europe have been actively promoting their currencies as substitutes for the dollar when it comes to both reserves and transactions, particularly in the face of expanding US.
“The reason why we’re using sanctions is that they are an important alternative for world military conflicts. And I believe it’s worked", said the US treasury secretary. “So whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s Iran or other places in the world, we take the responsibility very seriously," Sputnik quoted him as saying on Sunday.
Washington reimposed sweeping sanctions against Iran after the US government unilaterally pulled out of the multinational 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has imposed sweeping sanctions including on dollar trade with Iran, North Korea. According to the Treasury Department, there are 6,300 Specially Designated Nationals and more than 20 countries against which some type of US sanctions are in place.
Following renewed US sanctions, some European parties to the Iran deal devised a mechanism for trade with Tehran but the US use of the dollar in sanctions has stunted the ability of European allies and others to trade with Iran, among other countries and entities. So some states are therefore looking to euros and other alternatives — including Chinese renminbi and cryptocurrencies — to carry out trade free of US-imposed restrictions.
Earlier this year, France, Germany and the UK set up the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), which uses euros to bypass US sanctions on Iran. While it is not shown itself to be economically effective, it is a sign that even allies are seeking dollar alternatives to rebel against US policies they oppose.
The US president has time and time again called the Iran accord “flawed” and “the worst ever” and said America seeks a “better” agreement that includes Iran’s missile program and its regional activities.
The Trump administration’s sanctions, including those on the dollar trade with Iran and others, are part of a strategy to pressure state actors to change their practices. According to the Treasury Department, there are 6,300 Specially Designated Nationals and more than 20 countries against which some type of US sanctions are in place.
Iranian authorities have repeatedly slammed US policies as "economic terrorism".
President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran is willing to return to the negotiating table if the United States first drops “terrorist” sanctions.
He has described the sanctions as "a cruel act by the White House".
"We have no choice but to resist and persevere," he said earlier this month. "At the same time, we have not closed the window for negotiations.