US Says Iran Oil Exports in Line with Sanctions

Posted by Eric Haun
Friday, April 04, 2014

The United States on Friday dismissed suggestions that Iran was exporting much more oil than it is allowed to sell under a preliminary nuclear deal with world powers and predicted that aggregate Iranian oil sales would meet targets set for Tehran.

The remarks from a senior U.S. official came ahead of a new round of senior-level negotiations between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia in Vienna on April 8-9. It will be the third round of talks this year in the Austrian capital on a long-term deal with Iran.

Western sanctions for a fifth month, the latest sign that the limited sanctions relief agreed upon in November is helping Tehran sell more crude, according to sources who track tanker movements.

Under the interim nuclear deal agreed in November in Geneva, Iran's exports are supposed to be held at an average 1 million barrels per day for the six months to July 20. But shipments to Asia have topped that level at least since November, according to ship tracking data.

The senior U.S. official said the United States had always expected fluctuations and was focusing on aggregate, not short-term, data.

"We have had teams talk to each of the importers of Iranian oil, and we feel comfortable that, in fact, they will meet the target that we have and there is nothing to lead us to believe otherwise at this time," the senior U.S. official told reporters in a conference call.

"We of course keep continuous eye on this," the official added.

Diplomats and intelligence officials say that while Iran has been negotiating with the six powers, it has kept up its efforts to circumvent the sanctions.

The latest example of that was announced by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday. It said that a Chinese citizen faces U.S. criminal charges that he conspired to export to Iran products that could be used in that country's nuclear program.

The aim of the Vienna negotiations is to hammer out a long-term deal by July 20 that would limit the scope of Iran's nuclear program in return for a lifting of sanctions that have crippled its oil-dependent economy.

Difficult Choices
Iran denies Western allegations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear bombs, saying its program is aimed at generating electricity and carrying out peaceful research.

It has defied U.N. Security Council demands that it halt uranium enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities, which has led to multiple rounds of increasingly draconian U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.

The U.S. official said Iran will have to make some difficult choices about the future of its nuclear program if it is to reach an agreement with the six world powers that would bring an end to international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"It's about the choices Iran has to make, and some of them are very difficult," the official said.

"In order to ensure that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon and that the international community has the assurances it needs that their program is entirely and exclusively peaceful, they will have to make some significant changes and some significant choices," the official added.

The senior U.S. official declined to elaborate on what the biggest choices facing Iran involved, but diplomats close to the talks say that the fate of the Arak reactor that could yield bomb-grade plutonium and the scope of Iran's uranium enrichment research and development program are among the sticking points.

Iran has ruled out shutting down Arak, as the United States and European powers would prefer. U.S. officials have suggested that Iran could modify the reactor so that it would not be able to produce much plutonium at all.

The head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, in February signaled some flexibility, saying it was prepared to modify Arak to help allay any concerns.

So far, U.S. and European officials say, Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany have not started drafting an actual proposal. But the U.S. official said they were on schedule with a workplan agreed among the seven nations and the EU, which is helping coordinate the talks.

"We are on pace with that workplan, looking toward beginning the drafting in May," the official said.

Diplomats said that U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, the head of the U.S. delegation at the talks, was expected to hold more bilateral talks next week with Iran's delegation, which is headed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy, Abbas Araqchi.

Such regular close contact between senior U.S. and Iranian officials would have been virtually unthinkable a year ago. Iran has said repeatedly since pragmatist Hassan Rouhani was elected president last year that it wants to improve relations with Washington, which broke off ties in 1980.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Maritime Reporter January 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Tanker Trends

Yamal LNG Inks Deal with Gazprom to Sell LNG in Asia

A trading subsidary of Russian gas producer Yamal LNG has signed a long-term supply contract with a trading subsidiary of Gazprom, under which liquefied natural

Maran Orders 4 LNGCs from DSME

Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) will build four large Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers (LNGC) for Maran Gas.   The four LNGCs

Tepco, Chubu Buying 6 LNG cargoes from Vitol

Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co and Chubu Electric Power Co,, are expected to buy a total of six cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Vitol and GDF Suez in their first joint tender,

News

Tanzania's Energy Minister Resigns

Tanzania's Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo resigned on Saturday amid a graft scandal that has rocked the gas-rich country and led Western donors to delay aid,

Oil Majors to Preserve Dividends Despite Oil Collapse

Europe's oil majors will strike a sober note in their fourth-quarter results and investors will focus on companies' plans to maintain cherished dividends and

China's COSCO Group Returns to Profit

China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) returned to profit in 2014 after three years of losses, state media said on Saturday, citing an interview with the group's chairman.

Government Update

Irving Celebrates Canadian AOPS Build Contract

Government of Canada & Irving Shipbuilding mark signing of $2.3 billion AOPS build contract; 3,600 Jobs across Canada generated from Irving’s NSPS commitments to

FMC Commissioners Meet with China Transport Officials

Federal Maritime Commissioners Richard A. Lidinsky, Jr. and William P. Doyle met with transportation officials from China on January 14, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Captains' Union Blasts McCain’s Keystone Amendment

International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Asks: If Keystone is a “Jobs Bill” Why Would Congress Want to Send 400,000 Maritime Jobs in 26 States Overseas?    S.

Logistics

FMC Commissioners Meet with China Transport Officials

Federal Maritime Commissioners Richard A. Lidinsky, Jr. and William P. Doyle met with transportation officials from China on January 14, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Great Lakes Coal Falls Short in 2014

Despite a nearly 1-million ton increase in coal shipments on the Great Lakes in December, the surge was not enough to enable the trade to outperform 2013, the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) said,

Tepco, Chubu Buying 6 LNG cargoes from Vitol

Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co and Chubu Electric Power Co,, are expected to buy a total of six cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Vitol and GDF Suez in their first joint tender,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1671 sec (6 req/sec)