Iran Oil Exports Back to Pre-Sanctions Levels

Iran Oil Exports Back to Pre-Sanctions Levels

Tanker Trackers, an oil shipment monitoring service, reported that in the first 20 days of August, Iran shipped an average of more than 2 million barrels of oil per day. This is a 30 percent increase over earlier this year. Iran hasn’t exported this much oil since 2017. At current levels, the nation could make as much as $100 million a day.

Background: In 2018, United States President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Signed in 2016, the deal canceled U.S. sanctions in exchange for Iran scaling back parts of its nuclear program. Trump’s withdrawal reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil trade.

And the sanctions had their desired effect. During 2019, Iran shipped only 250,000 barrels a day.

Technically, the U.S. is still sanctioning Iranian oil. But the fact that Iran is again exporting so much oil overseas suggests that the U.S. isn’t enforcing its own sanctions.

Among Iran’s biggest buyers is energy-hungry China.

Sign of a nuclear deal? Rumors have circulated for months that the U.S. and Iran have reached an informal nuclear deal behind closed doors. The U.S. government denies its existence, but ignoring its own sanctions and letting Iran export oil at record volumes suggests some sort of under-the-table understanding.

Other signs of this nuclear deal include a recent prisoner swap, Iran telling its proxies to leave American targets alone, and Iran voluntarily slowing down its nuclear enrichment.

Learn more: Read “Explained: The New Iran Nuclear Deal.”