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Senators Press for Sanctions Threat Over Iran's Oil Sales Senators Press for Sanctions Threat Over Iran's Oil Sales

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Senators Press for Sanctions Threat Over Iran's Oil Sales

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, speaks with his visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in January. Two U.S. senators on Monday voiced alarm over a potential oil-barter arrangement between Tehran and Moscow.(Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Senate advocates of Iran sanctions urged President Obama to re-instate punitive steps against Iran if it sells more oil than a November deal allows.

The November multilateral nuclear agreement -- called the Joint Plan of Action or "JPA" -- loosens threats against buyers of Iran's oil if the Middle Eastern nation's "average daily crude oil exports remained constant over a six-month period.

 

Recent reports, however, suggest that Iranian oil sales have remained above one million barrels per day for five straight months," Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said in a letter to President Obama on Monday. The half-year pact is intended to facilitate the negotiation of a longer-term deal to limit Iran bomb-relevant nuclear activities.

Menendez and Kirk -- who authored an Iran sanctions bill currently in limbo in the Senate -- also noted allegations "that Iran and Russia are making progress toward a $20 billion barter arrangement that would breach the JPA and significantly undermine U.S. sanctions."

"If Iran moves forward with this effort to evade U.S. sanctions and violate the terms of oil sanctions relief provided for in the [interim nuclear deal], the United States should respond by re-instating the crude oil sanctions, rigorously enforcing significant reductions in global purchases of Iranian crude oil, and sanctioning any violations to the fullest extent of the law," the lawmakers wrote.

 

On Friday, though, a senior Obama administration official voiced confidence that Iran's oil exports would ultimately fall within limits established under November's interim atomic accord.

"We have had teams talk to each of the remaining importers of Iranian oil, and we feel comfortable that in fact, they will meet the target that we have, and there’s nothing to lead us to believe otherwise at this time," the insider told journalists in a background briefing.

"We, of course, keep continuous eye on this and in continuous discussion with all of the importers," the official added.

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