Khamenei to Putin: Let’s Ditch the Dollar and ‘Isolate the Americans’

By Patrick Goodenough | November 2, 2017 | 4:17 AM EDT

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. (Photo: Office of the Supreme Leader)

( – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday that their countries, both targeted by U.S. sanctions, should respond by ditching the U.S. dollar in trade transactions and use their national currencies instead.

At a meeting with the Russian leader in Tehran, Khamenei said, “By ignoring the negative propaganda of the enemies, that seek to weaken relations between countries, we can nullify U.S. sanctions, using methods such as eliminating the dollar and replacing it with national currencies in transactions between two or more parties; thus, isolate the Americans.”

Khamenei’s office, which quoted the supreme leader’s words to his visitor, did not say whether Putin responded to the comment. The Kremlin’s own readout of the meeting was brief, containing no details.

For years critics have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be abandoned as the main global reserve currency, with Russia and China leading the charge, but support also from other countries hostile to the U.S., including Iran and Venezuela.

In a message to the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – meeting in China last September, Putin said his country shares its partners’ concerns about “the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies.”

“We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies,” he said, in a clear reference to the greenback.

China, meanwhile, wants to persuade major oil suppliers to start pricing oil contracts in yuan rather than dollars, an announcement that caused a flurry of excitement in Russia and Venezuela.

While the official Iranian report on the Khamenei-Putin meeting did not say whether Putin responded to the comment about using rubles and rials for trade rather than the U.S. dollar, he did, however, share his opinions about U.S. policy in Syria and towards Iran.

Putin did not go as far as Khamenei – who claimed that the U.S.-led coalition “in support of terrorists” in Syria has been defeated – but he did criticize Washington’s approach to the conflict.

“The United States wants to interfere in all matters of the world and the region,” Khamenei’s office quoted Putin as saying.


The Russian leader said that Russia and Iran – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s closest allies in the drawn-out civil war – had “showed the world that without the need for states outside of our region, we are able to solve our very important regional issues.”

Putin reiterated his support for Assad as Syria’s “legal president,” and said that any political transformation must originate from inside Syria.

Putin also expressed his views on the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), following President Trump’s recent decision to “decertify” Iran’s compliance.

“We are opposed to any unilateral change in the provisions of this multilateral agreement, and we consider unilateralism as a violation of the international law and system,” he told Khamenei.

Putin objected to two U.S. positions – a demand for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have access to Iranian military facilities, and U.S. measures against Iran’s ballistic missile programs.

“We consider changing the core principles of the IAEA as inappropriate,” he said, “and we disagree with linking Iran’s nuclear program to other issues, including defense capabilities.”

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan sanctions legislation targeting Iran’s ballistic missiles which also puts Russia in the crosshairs, because of its provision of advanced S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran.

Entities found to be supplying or financing Iran’s missile program could face U.S. visa bans and prohibitions on the purchase of items on the U.S. munitions list.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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