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Iran Concerned About Oil Revenues, U.S. Pressure

FILE photo- In this Dec. 22, 2014 photo, an Iranian oil worker rides his bicycle at the Tehran oil refinery.
FILE photo- In this Dec. 22, 2014 photo, an Iranian oil worker rides his bicycle at the Tehran oil refinery.

Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Baqer Nobakht says Tehran is facing "serious problems in exporting oil" as a result of "brutal sanctions."

Speaking in the south-eastern province of Kerman on Friday January 18, Nobakht said Iran is "too far away from the target of exporting 2,410,000 barrels per day planned in the country's budget," which should have brought $47 billion in revenues.

Nobakht added that Iran is also facing difficulties in repatriating the money resulting from oil sales. "It is sometimes impossible to bring back the money, and sometimes difficult," He told ISNA on Friday.

The Iranian vice-president also said that sanctions on shipping and insurance have made oil export even more difficult for Iran. However, he said that "Iran will overcome brutal sanctions."

Meanwhile, According to OPEC, Iran’s crude oil production declined about 1.04 million barrels per day (mb/d) to 2.769 mb/d in December from early 2018.

The volume is even less than December 2015, when Iran was still under international sanctions imposed during the Obama administration.

On the other hand, according to the Wall Street Journal, China has offered a $3 billion deal to develop an Iranian oilfield taking advantage of waivers allowed under US sanctions as some European countries ended crude purchases from Iran.

But according to preliminary information obtained by Radio Farda, China has already cut back its ongoing involvement with the Iranian oil company and has not spent a significant amount of money in the past few months on existing projects in Iran's oil fields.

Addressing the governments' critics, Nobakht said that Iran's problems are caused by "the enemy's brutality" rather than "mismanagement" by state officials.

Iran uses the term “enemy” for the United States and Israel and sometimes for Saudi Arabia. In this case it mainly means the U.S.

He said: "We are facing a really difficult situation in our international relations. As soon as we negotiate with someone, the enemies increase their threats and force him to step back."

Iranian officials were hoping that a special financial arrangement by EU would allow some trade to continue regardless of U.S. sanctions. But Europe's SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) for trade with Iran has not materialized yet.

Iranian official news agency had reported on Thursday that the SPV arrangements were about to be implemented soon.

However, a senior EU official told a briefing in Brussels on Thursday that the SPV is "still in the pipeline," and that EU wants "to make sure that when it is presented, it is comprehensive and covers all positive and negative aspects and developments," adding that the SVP is part of an EU "conclusion" to be out "shortly."

In the meantime, reports from Brussels indicate that a U.S. effort to enlist Europe in its pressure campaign against Iran faced a setback after officials said ministers from several European Union members will likely skip a summit organized by Washington on Iran and the Middle East, reported the Wall Street Journal on January 17.

The senior EU official said about the Warsaw meeting that the title of the summit is "meeting to promote a future of peace and security in the Middle east. Who could be against that?" However, he hoped that the summit would promote peace and security in the region.

The summit, announced during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tour of the Middle East last week, is to be held in Warsaw in mid-February hosted jointly by Poland and the United States. However, It is still not clear how many countries will attend the summit and what is the exact goal President Donald Trump’s administration is pursuing by organizing an international gathering.

Iranian officials have strongly denounced the summit as "an anti-Iran meeting," and criticized Poland for hosting the meeting. An Iranian foreign ministry official told Poland's charge d'affaires in Tehran that Iran saw the decision to host the meeting as a "hostile act against Iran" and warned that Tehran could reciprocate, IRNA reported.

Meanwhile, On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting and wrote on Twitter: "Polish Govt can't wash the shame."