Technology

Tensions with Iran may be behind U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s cryptocurrency compliance comments on Wednesday.

The New York Times reported the Trump administration “has expressed growing concern” that this technology is being used to “evade American sanctions on countries like Iran.”

Earlier this week, the Parliament of Iran Research Center published a report suggesting cryptocurrency mining licenses issued in January could generate new tax revenue and bureaucratic fees. A related proposal by the same government-run center suggested this could bring the government upwards of $1 billion in annual revenue from the domestic cryptocurrency mining industry, which is estimated to be valued at $8.5 billion

The report also recommends allocating a portion of the Iranian government’s 2021 budget to cryptocurrency mining, though the specifics of that proposal are unclear.

In short, if the Trump administration is trying to starve the Iranian regime into submission, bitcoin may give the Islamic Republic a lifeline.

Mnuchin’s comments come days after the Trump administration proposed increasing the Treasury Department’s 2021 budget for cryptocurrency oversight. In 2019 alone, various U.S. government agencies spent $5 million on blockchain analytics services from Chainalysis. 

In July, Mnuchin referred to Facebook’s proposed Libra stablecoin as a “national security issue,” citing concerns about terror financing and money laundering.

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