Iran’s oil minister said Sunday the country had shipped abroad 83 million more barrels of crude oil in the first 11 months of the current Iranian calendar year compared to the same period last year, government-owned Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

Another report by state media Press TV said, also citing Petroleum Minister Javad Owji, the figure was Iran’s highest raw oil export since the USA’s reimposition of sanctions some four years ago.

Washington in November 2018 reinstated economic sanctions on Tehran after the then Trump administration withdrew from a deal aimed at the arms denuclearization of the Islamic republic. The sanctions “target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, shipping, shipbuilding, and financial sectors”, the White House said in a press release November 2, 2018.

Iran’s oil exports in the first 11 months of its current year, which started March 2022, marked a jump of around 190 million barrels compared to the same periods two years ago, Owji was cited by IRNA as saying.

Gas exports soared by 15 percent in the 2022-23 Iranian calendar from a year ago, the Press TV report cited him as saying.

Owji said the export boost had resulted from the country maximizing “all capacities, marketing and modified contracts”, as stated by Press TV.

He said, as quoted by IRNA, when the government had begun under the new leadership “there were days in which we had no oil sales”. But “the energy diplomacy worked”, Owji was quoted by IRNA as saying.

Oil Bonds

Meanwhile, Iran’s Petroleum Ministry, according to Press TV, announced Sunday it will issue some $6 billion worth of oil bonds.

National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said in a press release “transactions of crude oil and gas condensate certificates of deposit in Iran Energy Exchange (IRENEX) started” Sunday. The state-owned company said the certificate is “a standard means for transaction of the energy carrier”.

“The physical supply of crude oil to domestic customers has become possible for a first time in the history of Iran’s oil industry,” NIOC chief executive Mohsen Khojasteh Mehr was quoted by Press TV as saying.

USA Sanctions

The USA State Department said earlier this month it was committed to “significantly reducing Iranian energy exports and will sanction those facilitating Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical trade”.

In a statement March 2 it said it was “designating six entities that have engaged in the transport or sale of Iranian petroleum products or petrochemical products, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13846, and is identifying 20 vessels as property or interests in property of these entities”.

These are China’s Global Marine Ship Mgmt. Co. Ltd. and Shanghai Xuanrun Shpg Co. Ltd., United Arab Emirates-based Swedish Mgmt. Co. SA, Vietnam’s Golden Lotus Oil Gas and Real Estate Joint Stock Company, and Iran’s Bushehr Petrochemical Co. and Shiraz Petrochemical Co.

The department said the vessels were “blocked property of these sanctioned entities”.

“These designations underscore our continued efforts to enforce our sanctions against Iran. We will not hesitate to take action against those who try to circumvent our sanctions,” the statement warned.

Nuclear Activities Surveillance

Tehran in 2015 reached an agreement with world powers to curb nuclear activities in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

Iran suspended its commitments after the U.S. quit the pact that took effect 2016, called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and reimposed sanctions two years later.

Part of the treaty stated: “Based on its long-term plan, for 15 years, Iran will … keep its level of uranium enrichment at up to 3.67 percent…”.

The United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog disclosed March 8 its inspectors had detected at Iran’s Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant “high enriched uranium (HEU) particles containing up to 83.7% U-235”.

According to Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, “weapon-grade uranium is commonly considered to have been enriched above 90 percent U-235. However, some research reactors use 90 percent enriched U-235 to produce medical isotopes, so there are civilian applications for this fuel too”.

The Iran government, however, agreed in March to allow surveillance by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency at three facilities of concern to the watchdog.

“Iran, on a voluntary basis will allow the IAEA to implement further appropriate verification and monitoring activities”, the IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said in a joint statement March 4. “Modalities will be agreed between the two sides in the course of a technical meeting which will take place soon in Tehran.”

Negotiations that started in 2021 to revive the JCPOA have stalled since last year.

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