News ID: 231858
Published: 0703 GMT September 26, 2018

MPs downplay impact of US sanctions, say Iran has contingencies to sell oil

MPs downplay impact of US sanctions, say Iran has contingencies to sell oil

By Sadeq Dehqan

Lawmakers downplayed the impact of US sanctions aimed at driving Iranian oil exports to zero, saying the Islamic Republic is no stranger to sanctions and has overcome harsher ones in the past.

"US sanctions on Iran is not something new," Behrouz Nemati told Iran Daily, adding that Iran has always been under US sanctions since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The severity of US sanctions has seen ups and downs, but they have always been in place, the lawmaker said. "Even at times when US leaders relieved the sanctions, they did not abandon their pressures against Iran behind the scenes," he added.

In May, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers, despite deep dismay from European allies, and reimposed economic sanctions against Iran.

Trump described the historic agreement as 'flawed' and said he wants to negotiate a new nuclear deal that would also limit Iran's influence in the region.

The first phase of US sanctions went into effect on August 6, with giant European companies — including France's Total — announcing they would suspended plans to invest in Iran.

A second phase of US sanctions targeting Iran's oil and banking sector are to kick in on November 4.

Nemati acknowledged that the US sanctions will put Iran's oil exports under restraint, but ruled out the US would achieve its goals by resorting to sanctions.

"If you ask me whether the sanction (to be imposed in November) will put us under pressure, I would say yes. But, I am also sure that the US will not achieve its goals by such sanctions," he said.

Echoing that view, lawmaker Ehsan Qazizadeh said Iran would overcome the US sanctions as it did when the country was under UN-endorsed sanctions that had even adversely impacted trade with Russia and China.

"We have faced stiffer sanctions. The secondary sanctions imposed on Iran between 2010 and 2015 hindered trade with European countries and our (economic) relations with Russia and China had some problems," he recalled.

In the same vein, Lawmaker Hassan Hosseini said Iran would experience some hardships after the imposition of US sanctions, but underlined that Iran "is capable of dealing with sanctions without any serious harm".

 

 

Call for preserving EU relations

Qazizadeh said the withdrawal of many European companies from the Iranian market was in line with the firms' interests. He, however, called on Foreign Ministry officials to preserve the current political relations with European Union member states.

"Political relations with Europe must be preserved and should not be downgraded," he said.

After the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the remaining signatories of the agreement, namely Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, have been trying to salvage the deal.

To do so, the three European countries still remaining in the deal are due to present Iran with a package of economic incentives. They have also implemented a so-called 'blocking statute' that will mitigate the impact of US sanctions on European companies.

Nemati, however, had a cautious view toward the three European countries, saying they must demonstrate their independence from the US, otherwise they will suffer the same 'international isolation'.

"They must stand up for JCPOA and make up for US withdrawal or they would lose their credibility," he said.

 

 

Contingencies to sell oil

Hosseini said Iran 'can easily' sell its oil to its neighbors in case the US sanctions impede the country's presence in international oil market.

"We can sell two million barrels of oil a day through borders with our neighbors, but we currently prefer to sell oil via international trade routes," he said.

"If the US ratchets up its pressure, we also have other plans, which experience has shown can be successful," he added.

Iran is currently the third-largest producer among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Iran's oil exports to the EU, nearly 740,000 barrels per day last March, dropped to 387,000 barrels per day in August.

   
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