Iran is stepping up its efforts to use its foreign currency reserve assets abroad, notwithstanding pressure from Washington,

Speaking at a meeting of the economic co-ordination headquarters on Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani said that he would work to accelerate the implementation of agreements with countries in the region to regain access to and make use of Iranian assets located abroad.

Rouhani’s comments come after an announcement by Iranian Central Bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati on Monday that Iran had reached an agreement with Iraqi officials to unlock Iranian assets stuck in Iraqi banks to buy basic commodities and humanitarian goods exempt from US restrictions. Iraqi banks are believed to contain up to $5 billion in Iranian assets amid Iran’s export of large quantities of electricity and gas to the war-torn nation.

The news follows the Trump administration’s recent sanctions across Iran’s financial sector last week, including the blacklisting of 18 major state and commercial banks, a move which Tehran dubbed an escalation of the “psychological war” against the Islamic Republic. Iran is believed to have tens of billions of dollars in funds frozen in banks around the world, including nearly $2 billion in the United States.