Iran dismisses report on alleged demand to stay in nuclear deal

May 14, 2019

TEHRAN - Tehran on Tuesday dismissed a report by Reuters which claimed that the Islamic Republic had conditioned its staying in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Europe ensuring that the country sold 1.5 mbpd of oil.

Abbas Mousavi, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, referred to the report as “news-making” and “partial, imprecise resumption”, warning against its “destructive” effects towards serious diplomacy.

He said Iran’s demands of the remaining countries in the JCPOA - the official name for the 2015 nuclear deal - have been explicitly stated in a May 8 letter to European leaders by President Hassan Rouhani.

Reuters on Monday quoted “sources with knowledge of Iran-EU talks” that Iran had insisted on exporting at least 1.5 mbpd of oil, triple May’s expected levels under U.S. sanctions, as a condition for staying in the international nuclear deal.

The figure was communicated in recent meetings between Iranian and Western officials, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, but has not been set down in writing, four European diplomatic sources said, according to Reuters.

The United States reimposed sanctions in November on exports of Iranian oil after Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 accord in May 2018 between Iran and six world powers.

In an attempt to reduce Iran’s crude exports to zero, Washington ended at the beginning of May waivers that had allowed the top buyers of Iranian oil to continue their imports for six months.

The sanctions have already more than halved Iranian oil exports to 1 million bpd or less, from a peak of 2.8 million bpd last year. Exports could drop to as low as 500,000 bpd from May, an Iranian official told Reuters this month.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set out last year a series of conditions for European powers if they wanted Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal, including continued purchases of Iranian oil.

According to one European Union official, the Iranians have not been specific, but they wanted to ensure production returned to pre-sanctions levels. Other sources said Iran’s demand seemed to be in a general range of 1.5 million to 2 mbpd.

According to Iran’s budget for this year, one third of the government’s income - 1,425 trillion rials ($33.9 billion, with 1USD at the official rate of 42,000 rials) - should come from oil and gas exports.

The budget was based on a forecast crude oil price of $50-$54 per barrel and a U.S. dollar rate of 57,000 rials, meaning the Iranian economy could remain sustainable if exports came to at least 1.5 million bpd.

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