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Iran Drops Dollar From Oil Deals


11 December, 2007

TEHRAN (AFP) — Major crude producer Iran has completely stopped carrying out its oil transactions in dollars, Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said on Saturday, labelling the greenback an "unreliable" currency.

"At the moment, selling oil in dollars has been completely halted, in line with the policy of selling crude in non-dollar currencies," Nozari was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

"The dollar is an unreliable currency, considering its devaluation and the oil exporters' losses," he added.

The world's fourth largest oil exporter, Iran has massively reduced its dependence on the dollar over the past year in the face of US pressures on its financial system and the fall in the dollar.

Nozari did not specify in which currencies Iran was now being paid. In the past, officials have said most oil income was in euros, with a significant percentage in yen.

Japan, which purchases 20 percent of Iran's crude oil, has recently agreed to pay for the crude oil in yen, officials have said. The UAE dirham has also been mooted as a possible payment currency.

Iran has in the past months been whittling down the proportion of dollars in its oil revenue income. Officials in October said that dollars accounted for only 15 percent of payments and predicted the amount would fall to zero.

However, the oil income is still being booked in dollars.

The United States has in recent months successfully encouraged major European and Asian banks to cut their dealings with Iran in a bid to make the Islamic republic give way on its controversial nuclear programme.

Washington has also blacklisted major Iranian banks for alleged support of terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons, charges denied by Tehran.

Iran has also reduced its dollar assets held in foreign banks and urged OPEC to take collective action to price oil in other currencies such as the euro, instead of the US currency which is used across the world at present.

The fall of the dollar, which has weakened considerably against the euro and other currencies in the past 12 months, has affected the revenues of OPEC members because most of them price and sell their oil exports in the US currency.

Copyright © 2007 AFP

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