Iran-US: Expansion of the Battle Zone

By Thomas Pany

[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis, 9/16/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.telepolis.de/r4/artikel/20/20947/1.html.]

[Iran is always good for surprises and speculations. “Washington hasn’t the faintest idea about the kind of adversary it faces,” writes Spengler, a columnist of the US-critical Asia Times. (1)]

While on one side the US is making a power-point presentation in backroom conferences of diplomats that recalls similar “slide-shows” before the Iraq war to convince them that Iran was tinkering with a nuclear bomb, Teheran on the other side has provided food for speculation for some time that it wants to weaken the dominance of the “satanic superpower” with very different means – on the economic terrain with the introduction of the Euro as the central currency for an Iranian oil exchange (IOB).

In 2004, Teheran’s plans to compete for the oil business (2) with the large exchanges in London and New York through its own exchange were clear. Both exchanges, the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEN) belong to American firms.

Firstly, the Iranian oil exchange will be opened in 2005 although the undertaking is still in the planning phase. (3)

The new Iranian government announced (4) that the Euro will be introduced there as the central currency for trade with crude oil, gas and petro-chemical products. In the past, the dollar – “petrodollar” – was the standard international currency for the oil trade. If the Euro disputes this role of the dollar, this could result in advantages for Europeans while seriously affecting the US, according to speculations. (5)

Most oil-importing countries must pay for their oil with dollars forcing them to invest the large part of their currencies in dollars. The massive debts of the US lead to the fragile economy depending strongly on this high demand for dollars to keep its head above water. The IOB could give the Euro a standing in the international oil trade and reinforce its status as an alternative trade currency. This could lead to a greater flight from the dollar to the Euro and thus to a catastrophe for the US.

The establishment of the Euro as a trade currency for oil would strengthen an already existing trend that favors the Euro against the dollar as a currency reserve, weakens the dollar and thus makes imports more expensive for Americans. The US markets would suffer enormously, economic experts fear. (6) For others, this is part of a larger strategy of Iran that appears at the moment as a very self-confident regional power and does not hide this from the US.

“The IOB plan is part of a very intelligent and creative Iranian strategy to take the offensive in every possible way and mobilize other actors against the US.”
George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (7)

According to information (8) from the news-portal “IranMania,” Iran’s strategy could be even more creative than Perkovich assumes since it operates with rumors. Information from IranMania (9) indicates that the country’s stock exchange council has not made any decision designating the Euro as the official currency for the oil trade on the new exchange. The chairman of the council, Heydar Mostakhdermin-Husseini, emphasized to the Iranian news agency ISNA a week ago that details of the project must still be discussed and denied the “Euro-announcement.”


Truth in this case is hard to identify as often in the Cold War between the US and Iran. The governments in Teheran and Washington feel threatened by the other side and seek allies. The American government presently seeks allies to bring Iran’s nuclear policy before the UN Security Council and enforce sanctions against Teheran (which may fail in the veto of Russia, China and India). For this goal, diplomats from twelve countries were invited to a Power-Point presentation with satellite photos (10) to uncover the “true intentions” of the Iranian nuclear program.

After shots of Iranian installations put together with photos of similar facilities in Pakistan and North Korea were presented to them in the slide show titled “A History of Concealment and Deception,” some participants complained about the inadequacy of this evidence which they remember in Colin Powell’s notorious appearance at the UN Security Council in February 2003.

In an interview earlier in September 2005 (11), the former Secretary of State admitted his statements were false and the appearance before the Security was a “painful blot on his record.”

One last point should be recalled. Saddam Hussein also wanted to introduce the Euro as the currency for the oil trade in 2000. Some experts saw there a motive for the American campaign against Iraq [cf. The Euro as Wonder-Weapon (12)].