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'If US Can Impose Sanctions, We Can Circumvent', Says Iran Official

Former Iranian MP and currently advisor to Iran's oil minister on sanctions, Mo'ayyed Hosseini Sadr.
Former Iranian MP and currently advisor to Iran's oil minister on sanctions, Mo'ayyed Hosseini Sadr.

An advisor to Iran’s oil minister says, “If the United States has experience in imposing sanctions, we have experience in circumventing them”.

Mo’ayyed Hosseini Sadr, an advisor on how to deal with sanctions, told Tasnim news agency that given the high demand in the oil market and limited production, it would be impossible to replace Iranian supplies. He did not elaborate why oil production might be an issue.

Last week, U.S. Energy Secretary, Rick Perry met with Saudi and Russian officials in what was reported as discussions aimed at keeping oil supplies steady, as Washington’s new sanctions on Iran’s exports are scheduled to kick in on November 4.

Later, Iran's envoy to OPEC complained that Russia is trying to take Iran’s share of the oil market. This was a rare criticism of Moscow, as Iran and Russia are regional allies in the Middle East.

Hosseini Sadr said in his interview that Iran has land borders with several countries and “easily can collaborate” with them in oil trade. During the last round of sanctions on Iran, prior to the signing of the 2015 nuclear agreement, it was reported that Iran was shipping oil to Iraq.

He also claimed that many foreign companies will not respect the U.S. sanctions, since these are not endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. However, in the last few months many countries and companies, especially in Asia, have been cutting down their purchases of Iranian oil.

However, Iran's experiment in circumventing oil sanctions before largely failed and led to a huge scandal that still resonates in the country. Babak Zanjani, a flamboyant businessman was allowed to sell Iranian oil on the black market and ended embezzling billion of dollars from the proceeds. He is currently waiting on death row in Tehran.

Hosseini Sadr also claimed that Iran’s oil ministry is planning sweetened deals for those who would continue buying its oil. But he voiced concern that Iran has not designated a high-level official to coordinate sanctions-busting efforts, while the U.S. has a designated person “who reviews his countries sanction plans every day”.

He added that Iran currently has the capacity to produce 60 million tons of petrochemicals and its foreign customers cannot find substitute for these and Iran will not face difficulties in circumventing sanctions in this area.

The oil ministry advisor also tried to downplay the impact of sanctions on the country's economy, insisting that the chaos in Iran's markets is not because of pure economic result of U.S. sanctions but more the product of "psychological" factors and lack of good management.

But one aim of sanctions is to create negative psychological impact on the economy, by discouraging investors and creating unpredictability in the economic environment.

Hosseini Sadr is also serving his second term in the Iranian parliament, representing the region of Khoi in West-Azerbaijan province. He was a member of parliament’s energy commission. He is also chairman of Iran-Turkey Friendship Society and currently holds many advisory positions with various Iranian ministries. He is a chemist by training.