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Rising Oil Prices Buying Iran Time in Nuclear Talks, Officials Say

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avatar by i24 News

A gas flare on an oil production platform is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf July 25, 2005. Photo: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

i24 NewsEmboldened by an oil price surge since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iranian leaders are in no rush to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with world powers to ease sanctions on its energy-reliant economy, according to officials familiar with Tehran’s thinking.

Last year, the Islamic Republic engaged in indirect talks with the United States with the hopes of eventually canceling US sanctions that pushed Iran into worse economic hardships.

But the talks were suspended in March, chiefly over Iran’s insistence on Washington to remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

While the ultimate goal is to resurrect the nuclear deal and have sanctions lifted, Tehran officials noted that soaring oil prices gave Iran’s economy some breathing room.

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“Our nuclear program is advancing as planned and time is on our side,” said a senior Iranian official who declined to be named.

“If the talks fail, it will not be the end of the world,” the official added.

Oil exports from Iran – which sits on the world’s fourth-largest reserves of crude – plummeted from a peak of 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 to as low as 200,000 bpd after US sanctions were imposed.

Now, exports are back up to around 1.5 million bpd with most going to China, an Iranian oil official said, as global oil prices of $139 a barrel are at their highest since 2008.

Jihad Azour, the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia Department director, told Reuters that “the increase in oil prices and an increase in (Iran’s) oil production are constituting an additional… increase in revenues,” allowing its economy to adjust.

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