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Iran Reports Growing Oil Exports Despite US Sanctions, Ship Seizures

© AP Photo / Ernesto VargasIranian oil tanker Fortune is anchored at the dock of the El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, Monday, May 25, 2020
Iranian oil tanker Fortune is anchored at the dock of the El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, Monday, May 25, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.03.2022
Iranian crude exports have fallen since US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the country in 2018. Iran and the US have been negotiating in Vienna over the past year in an effort to find a way to lift them in a manner that is mutually acceptable.
Oil exports of the Islamic Republic of Iran reached a new post-2018 high despite efforts undertaken by the US to seize the country's tankers, Iran's Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji has stated.
"The United States has on several occasions in the past months violated Iranian oil tankers to prevent export of shipments. When the enemy realised it could not stop our exports and contracts, they went after our ships", Owji said.
The minister further noted that Iran's oil exports have been rising despite "the toughest sanctions" and the ongoing efforts to lift them via the Vienna talks. Owji shared that the growth was achieved with the use of "different methods used to win contracts and finding different buyers".
He also stated that the increase in crude sales had strengthened Iran's negotiating position in Vienna.
The minister's comments come in the wake of the reported seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in the Bahamas under the US sanctions. Washington has reported other seizures in the past, but Tehran has rejected claims about owning the crude stored on the vessels.

Sudden Halt to Vienna Talks

The US slapped sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018. However, the Joe Biden administration initiated talks on returning all sides of the JCPOA to compliance with the deal's provisions. In the years following the US withdrawal, Iran also suspended its obligations under the nuclear deal.
The negotiations have been ongoing for almost a year with little success, but recently the sides reported substantial progress, up to the point of the text for a new accord almost being ready. However, on 11 March Iranian and the EU representatives reported a sudden halt in negotiations, citing a "third party" factor. Almost a week prior to this, Russia requested guarantees that its future trade with Iran not be affected by the new Western sanctions – a condition that the US refused to include in the agreement.
The negotiating teams left Vienna, where the talks have been taking place, and returned to their respective countries for consultations.
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