US and Iranian diplomats which are still engaged in ongoing ‘indirect’ negotiations via intermediaries in Vienna (now over a month in) have signaled that a major nuclear agreement is now “within reach” – and now as Bloomberg reports, “Iran is preparing to ramp up global oil sales as talks to lift U.S. sanctions show signs of progress.”
Following years of Trump-imposed biting sanctions which particularly targeted Iran’s oil exports, and with in some cases Iranian tankers even being seized, the Islamic Republic is actively prepping to get its global exports flowing once again. “State-controlled National Iranian Oil Co. has been priming oil fields — and customer relationships — so it can increase exports if an accord is clinched, officials said,” Bloomberg continues. “Under the most optimistic estimates, the country could return to pre-sanctions production of almost 4 million barrels a day in as little as three months. It could also tap a flotilla’s worth of oil that’s hoarded away in storage.”
However, even with such positive momentum and optimism on both sides, it remains that the Trump administration “boxed-in” Biden in terms of what can and can’t be done rapidly. At issue is the “mine field” of sanctions and punitive actions slapped on over 700 entities and officials. Most notably this includes two dozen financial institutions at the heart of which is Iran’s central bank.
This had also been designed to scare off even willing buyers, given the complex labyrinth of legal hurdles related to shipping insurance and other red tape. The Iranians are said to be expectant of an extended gradual process of undoing sanctions, yet hardliners and the Ayatollah himself have warned their patience will soon run out, and that talks cannot “drag on”.
Over the weekend Vienna talks continued without pause despite a fierce bombing campaign by Israel on Gaza reaching the end of a week, leaving about 200 Palestinians in the strip dead, and thousands wounded.
The Vienna talks on #JCPOA are conducted in various informal settings, as well as in the working groups on #sanctions lifting, nuclear issues and practical measures to restore the deal. The drafting process is under way. If the need arises a Joint Commission can be convened. https://t.co/EoazrUyH8r
— Mikhail Ulyanov (@Amb_Ulyanov) May 15, 2021
There have been growing fears that the outbreak of fighting in Gaza, which saw Hamas and Islamic Jihad launch some 2,000 total rockets into Israel, killing ten Israel civilians, could derail the attempts to restore the JCPOA nuclear deal. Tel Aviv has consistently blamed Iran for supporting and supplying Hamas with its sizable missile stockpile.
Netanyahu as well as Mossad chief Yossi Cohen have lately personally attempted to intervene with the Biden White House, arguing that restoration of a “bad deal” will all but assure that Iran acquires nukes. Israel has also gone so far as to allegedly bomb and sabotage Iranian tankers delivering oil and fuel to its ally Syria.