An Iranian official said Russian energy-trade talks faced an uphill battle, amid global fears about possible implications for nuclear sanctions, Reuters reports.
"The negotiation is continuing" between Moscow and Tehran, Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi said in Monday comments quoted by the wire agency. He added, though, that the discussion "is very difficult because both countries are producers and exporters of oil and gas."
The official raised the concern as the sides discussed a range of trade options, including a potential pact under which Russia could swap nonmonetary assets for as much as 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil each day.
The Obama administration has said such an arrangement would run counter to language in a six-month deal it hopes will set the stage for longer-term limits on Iran's weapon-usable nuclear operations. Washington and its allies are trying to maintain economic pressure against Tehran as they bargain over what nuclear restrictions the Persian Gulf power could accept in exchange for sanctions relief.
Majedi said, "Russia is a producer and exporter of oil ... [and] there is no way that Iran will receive some of the oil from Russia. Maybe vice-versa, maybe. But not now."
The deputy oil minister added that his country expects to hold its daily petroleum sales to other countries at roughly 1 million barrels into July, when the interim atomic accord is currently slated to lapse, Bloomberg reported. Iran's production of unrefined oil now stands at approximately 2.7 million barrels each day, he said.
Western powers have set a 1 million-barrel limit on Iran's average daily exports for the six-month pact's full duration which, if exceeded, could trigger new sanctions. Sales reportedly have topped the anticipated cap since the deal took effect in January, but the Obama administration has said it expects Iran's shipments ultimately to fall within agreed boundaries under the pact.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.