Exports of Iranian crude oil jumped to 1.32 million barrels, up from December’s high of 1.06 million barrels, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
The spike in exports—mainly to Japan, China, and India—has helped Iran’s once-ailing economy stabilize and decrease inflation.
Iranian oil exports have steadily risen since negotiations with the West restored confidence in Tehran’s economy. The increase runs counter to a promise by the Obama administration that “Iran’s oil exports will remain steady at their current level of around 1 million barrels per day.”
The significant rise in oil exports has led some experts to accuse the Obama administration of misleading the public about the amount of sanctions relief provided under the interim nuclear deal.
While the White House said Iran would receive no more than $7 billion in relief, these experts say that the rise in oil exports and other economic spikes will give Iran “well more than $20 billion.”
“These numbers … cast doubt on the accuracy of the administration’s estimates for sanctions relief,” former Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, said in a statement. “The $6 or $7 billion estimate does not take into account the tens of billions of dollars Iran will reap from increased oil sales.”
“It is becoming more and more evident that the Geneva deal provided Iran with disproportionate sanctions relief, in exchange for far less significant concessions regarding its nuclear program,” Wallace said.
Iran currently has some 30 million barrels of crude oil stored on tankers, “including 6 million barrels in vessels off China’s coast,” Iran’s state-run media reported. It produced 30,000 more barrels in January, bringing its total to around 2.78 million, according to the report.This news comes on top of Iran setting new "red lines" for future negotiations:
Iranian figures continued this week to lengthen the list of red lines they intend to take into comprehensive nuclear negotiations, weeks after statements by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – in which the revolutionary-era cleric rejected destroying nuclear enrichment centrifuges - had already led CNN’s Fareed Zakaria to declare that he wasn’t sure what negotiators could even talk about “if these are the opening positions.”
Rouhani’s red line against dismantling enrichment equipment was subsequently underlined by a range of top Iranian officials, and reemphasized by the president himself. On Wednesday, Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran’s delegation to the United Nations, also ruled out downgrading Iran’s heavy water reactor at Arak, which once it is activated will be able to produce enough plutonium for one to two nuclear bombs per year.