Iran calls dollar, euro 'dirty', seeks to rid them from reserves in sanction response

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran announced plans Monday to get rid of its dollar and euro reserves in response to the latest U.N. sanctions over its contested nuclear program.

The U.N. Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran in June because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Tougher unilateral U.S. and European Union sanctions followed in July.

"To fight sanctions, we will remove the dollar and euro from our foreign exchange basket and will replace them with (the Iranian) rial and the currency of any country cooperating with us," Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi told Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency. "We consider these currencies (dollar and euro) dirty and won't sell oil in dollar and euro," he added.

The United States and its allies are concerned Iran's continued uranium enrichment could ultimately produce a nuclear weapon. Iran denies this, saying it only seeks nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Rahimi said sanctions won't deter Iran from continuing its nuclear program, and instead they are only helping it achieve technological self-sufficiency in various industries.

Rahimi also attacked South Korea, saying Seoul needs to be punished for joining the global coalition of countries sanctioning Iran.

"The Koreans also need to be slapped," he was quoted by Fars as saying.

Ahmadinejad's government has opened Iran's doors to imports in recent years to keep consumer prices low at the expense protecting of domestic industry, but Rahimi said the government is now planning to increase tariffs on imports.

"We will increase tariffs by 200 percent. We will hike it so much so that no one will be able to buy foreign goods. We should not buy the products of our enemies," he said. "Students can force their parents not to buy foreign goods."

Rahimi also called Australians "a bunch of cattlemen." Australia joined the 27-member European Union in imposing additional sanctions against Iran.

While Iranian economists acknowledge that sanctions are biting and have harmed Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted this week that sanctions will instead serve to eradicate the domination of the dollar in global markets.