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Bitcoin does what US and Israeli forces could not

by on19 January 2021

Shut down Iran

Massive blackouts and smog have hit cities across Iran and the government is blaming bitcoin miners.

Iran is already under economic duress and suffocating US sanctions, simultaneously battles the region's worst coronavirus outbreak. It has a rubbish, underfunded, and poorly managed electricity sector.

However, government officials say that bitcoin mining at cryptocurrency farms -- the energy-intensive business of using large collections of computers to verify digital coin transactions -- is partly to blame.

Iran's state-owned electricity firm Tavanir announced Wednesday that it had shut down a large Chinese-Iranian-run cybercurrency centre in the southeastern province of Kerman because of its heavy energy consumption.

The company was licensed to operate under a process the government had put in place to regulate the industry. Alongside pointing a finger at legal operations, Iranian officials have specifically singled out illegal cryptocurrency miners as a strain on the electricity grid spurring outages, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, a spokesperson for the electricity industry at Iran's energy ministry, told the IRNA state-run news agency.

Ali Vaezi, a spokesperson for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said the government would be investigating cases of unlicensed cryptocurrency farms. But Iranians in the bitcoin industry reject the government's accusations, saying the industry is being blamed for a broader problem.

"The miners have nothing to do with the blackouts", Ziya Sadr, a cryptocurrency researcher in Tehran, told The Washington Post. "Mining is a very small percentage of the overall electricity capacity in Iran."

Last modified on 19 January 2021
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