Iran and Russia replaced the U.S. dollar with their national currencies in bilateral trade, Iran’s state-run Fars news agency reported Saturday, citing Seyed Reza Sajjadi, the Iranian ambassador in Moscow.
The proposal to switch to the ruble and the rial was raised by President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Astana, Kazakhstan, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ambassador said. The meeting was in June of last year.
Iran has replaced the dollar in its oil trade with India, China and Japan, Fars reported.
The European Union, the United States and the United Nations are applying sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear efforts are for civilian purposes and to generate electricity, while the United States and several major allies say the program represents a weapons threat.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant will reach full electricity-generating capacity on Feb. 1, Fars news agency reported Sunday, citing Fereydoun Abbasi, head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization.
The plant’s 1,000-megawatt maximum output will meet 2.5 percent of the Islamic Republic’s power needs, Abbasi was cited as saying. Iran is ready to export nuclear energy services to nations such as those in Africa that hold uranium resources, he also said.
China’s Defendence of Iran’s oil Trade
BEIJING – China gave no hint on Wednesday of giving ground to U.S. demands to curb Iran’s oil revenues, rejecting Washington’s sanctions on Tehran as overstepping even as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner lobbied for Beijing’s support.
“On economic growth, on financial stability around the world, on non-proliferation, we have what we view as a very strong, cooperative relationship with your government and we are looking forward to building on that,” Geithner told Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping earlier in the day.
Geithner is touring Asia to muster support for U.S. sanctions on oil revenues flowing to Tehran, which Western governments say wants to develop the means to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian uses, not weapons proliferation.
President Barack Obama authorized a law on New Year’s Eve imposing fresh sanctions on financial institutions that deal with Iran’s central bank, its main clearing house for oil payments. That will make it difficult to pay for Iranian oil.
Beijing is crucial to Washington’s pressure on Iran: China is Iran’s biggest oil customer, and has long argued that sanctions will not defuse the nuclear dispute.
China faces pressure to go along with the U.S. sanctions by cutting what it pays for Iranian oil, if not the volume it buys.
But China made it clear that, whatever the commercial or political calculations driving ups and downs in its crude orders from Iran, it rejects in principle unilateral U.S. sanctions.
“Iran is also an extremely big oil supplier to China, and we hope that China’s oil imports won’t be affected, because this is needed for our development,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told a news conference in answer to a question about whether Beijing could curtail crude from Iran under U.S. pressure.
“We oppose applying pressure and sanctions, because these approaches won’t solve the problems. They never have,” Zhai told the briefing about Wen’s six-day visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
“We hope that these unilateral sanctions will not affect China’s interests.”
China has backed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities, while working to ensure its energy ties are not threatened. As a permanent member of the council, China wields a veto.