Diplomacy

Reports: Iran Oil Recovery Should Be “Red Flag” for White House

Reuters reported on Wednesday that February figures will show Iranian oil exports having risen for the fourth consecutive month.

The increase in shipments is around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to one tracker company, which would take Iranian exports to at least 1.30 million bpd for February. A second tracking source familiar with Iran’s shipments said extra cargoes had headed to Syria and South Korea in February. Two cargoes were unloaded in Indonesian waters – a location sometimes used by Iran for ship-to-ship transfers.

The Washington Post had earlier in the week noted that Iran has also “sharply increased its oil exports to China and India over the past few months.”

China’s average monthly imports of Iranian oil during the past three months were 29 percent above the monthly average for the previous six months, according to Foreign Reports, a Washington-based energy consulting firm. The firm said that average Indian imports from Iran were 53 percent higher during the past three months than the previous six-month period.

“The numbers should be a red flag for the administration,” said Nat Kern, who heads Foreign Reports. “What is the U.S. going to do at the end of May if Iran has punched such a deep hole through the core sanctions on oil? The horse would be out of the barn.”

Critics of the administration’s diplomatic approach to Iran have long insisted that the White House squandered away the leverage it needs to secure substantive concessions regarding Iran’s nuclear program, assessing that the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) gave away billions more in relief than the administration acknowledged and set into motion a feeding frenzy that will further erode the sanctions regime. Congress had sought to boost negotiators’ leverage by pursuing legislation that would impose a range of sanctions should Iran eventually refuse to verifiably put its atomic program beyond use for weaponization, and the White House responded by insisting that it had sufficient leverage and by expending massive political capital to block the efforts.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, on Monday reemphasized Tehran’s broadly expressed position that it will not dismantle any centrifuges or shut down any uranium enrichment facilities.

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