Iran seizes 7,000 cryptocurrency computer miners, biggest loot yet

A representation of the Bitcoin virtual currency can be seen in front of a stock chart in this illustration taken on January 8, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / File Photo

DUBAI, June 22 (Reuters) – Iranian police seized 7,000 computer miners from an illegal cryptocurrency farm, their biggest loot to date from power-hungry machines that have exacerbated power outages in Iran, reported Tuesday official media.

In late May, Iran banned the exploitation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for nearly four months as part of efforts to reduce the incidence of power outages blamed by authorities on increased demand. of electricity during the extremely hot and dry summer.

Tehran’s police chief General Hossein Rahimi said the 7,000 computer miners were seized from an abandoned factory west of the capital, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are created through a process known as mining, where powerful computers compete against each other to solve complex mathematical problems. The process is very energy intensive, often relying on electricity produced by fossil fuels, which are plentiful in Iran.

According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, about 4.5% of all bitcoin mining takes place in Iran, earning it hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from cryptocurrencies that can be used to reduce mining. impact of US sanctions. Read more

Iran’s economy has been hit hard since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump walked out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The administration of US President Joe Biden and other world powers are continuing talks with Iran to revive the deal.

Iran has accepted cryptocurrency mining in recent years, offering cheap energy and forcing miners to sell their bitcoins to the central bank. Tehran allows the use of cryptocurrencies mined in Iran to pay for authorized merchandise imports.

The prospect of cheap, state-subsidized electricity has drawn miners, especially from China, to Iran. The production of the electricity they use requires the equivalent of about 10 million barrels of crude oil per year, or 4% of total Iranian oil exports in 2020, according to Elliptic.

Report by Dubai Newsroom Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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