Reuters reported on Wednesday that Iran will exceed the amount of oil it is permitted to export under the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) for the fifth month in a row, a development set to deepen concerns that the West is losing control of the sanctions relief granted to the Islamic republic under the JPA and to fuel calls for measures designed to reassert such control.
Under the deal, Iran’s exports are supposed to be held at an average 1 million bpd 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 Obama administration believes that exports will fall in coming months and on average will fall to the 1 million bpd level stipulated by the interim agreement which went into effect on January 20.
Observers have expressed concerns that excess Iranian exports in the meantime will nonetheless undercut the leverage of Western negotiators, and perhaps even incentivize the Iranians to pocket what concessions they’ve gained and walk away from negotiations.
It is not clear by when the White House anticipates oil exports to have fully averaged out, and it is similarly uncertain whether the administration would – by then – be willing take punitive measures after what will have been months of negotiations.
The news comes amid renewed Congressional moves to secure a substantive role in determining the direction of negotiations with Iran, with bipartisan groups from both the House and the Senate recently sending letters to President Barack Obama outlining what Congress considers to be the minimum requirements for a comprehensive deal.