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Iran’s ever-cheerful President Hassan Rouhani, together with Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, held a public ceremony yesterday at which they set fire to an oversized mockup of the Interim Joint Plan of Action and then stomped on the ashes in hobnailed boots. They didn’t, actually. But they might as well.
Omri Ceren of The Israel Project reports:
Iran is reportedly set to bust through oil sale caps set by the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) for the sixth straight month, according to a report published late Tuesday by Reuters assessing that the Islamic republic will have managed to send abroad an average of 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude exports in April.
The JPA permits Iran only 1 million bpd’s, a level that Tehran has thus far exceeded every single month since the announcement of the deal. Reuters wrote up the April numbers under the headline “Iran’s oil exports fall in April, closer to Western limits,” a gesture toward administration assurances that Iranian energy exports will very shortly crash to such a degree that – by the end of the JPA’s six-month negotiating period – the average figure for exports will indeed converge on Iran’s permitted limits.
Observers have expressed skepticism that the White House will have robust diplomatic options should those predictions prove over-optimistic, and have worried that in the meantime Western negotiating leverage is steadily eroding as Iran’s economy improves and it reestablishes trade channels to outside markets.
And who might be the most immediate beneficiary of all this, aside from the Iranian theocracy itself? Anyone?
Iran held talks with Russia over $10 billion worth of in electricity deals on Sunday, in the latest deals, in a new attempt by Moscow to leverage a privileged relationship its close ties with Tehran.
Russia is already in talks with Iran to swap its food and other goods for Iranian oil. The move is seen by some as a Russian attempt to take positions in Iran’s vast market when it opens up and assert its international clout amid increased Tehran’s tensions with the West.
In a statement posted on its website, Iran’s energy ministry Iran’s energy ministry said Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian met his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak in Tehran on Sunday to discuss $10 billion worth of discuss the power deals. They included the construction of hydroelectric power plants and, according to the Mehr news agency, the possibility of Russia exporting 500 megawatts of electricity to Iran.
The Obama administration’s strategy of punishing Russia with economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis encountered a new complication on Monday with word that the Russians are negotiating an $8 billion to $10 billion energy deal with Iran, another country ostracized by American-led sanctions, which partly depend on Moscow’s cooperation to be effective.
The Russia-Iran energy deal, reported by the Iranian state news media, is the second significant economic collaboration under negotiation between the two countries that could undercut the efficacy of the sanctions on Iran. Those sanctions are widely credited with successfully pressuring the Iranians in the current talks over their disputed nuclear program.
The first such collaboration, you’ll recall, was the “sanctions-busting $20 billion oil-for-goods deal” of a few weeks back. So much for consequences of infraction of the terms of the JPA.
It’s entirely conceivable that this pitiful excuse for a slap on the wrist doled out to a vile extremist regime will result in an accelerated arms race here in the Middle East. Indeed, it’s likely that it already has. So much for a benevolent withdrawal from the world stage. Add that one to the legacy, Mr. President.
Photo of Ali Khameini and Hassan Rouhani by EPA, via Russian Council.