Iran’s Rising Oil Sales Worry U.S. Lawmakers

Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 28, 2014, 9 a.m.

Signs of an ex­pan­sion in Ir­an’s oil trade have wor­ried U.S. le­gis­lat­ors seek­ing to pres­sure the na­tion over its nuc­le­ar pro­gram, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures in­dic­ate that China has boos­ted pur­chases of un­re­fined pet­ro­leum from Ir­an by al­most 30 per­cent since Novem­ber, when the Middle East­ern na­tion agreed to tem­por­ar­ily re­strict some of its atom­ic activ­it­ies in re­turn for curbs on in­ter­na­tion­al sanc­tions, AP re­por­ted on Thursday. Some ana­lyses poin­ted to a pos­sible two­fold in­crease in Ir­an’s oil sales since last month, but U.S. gov­ern­ment per­son­nel re­por­ted a smal­ler rise.

Two U.S. law­makers were set to dis­cuss the new oil sales dur­ing a closed-door meet­ing on Thursday with Un­der Sec­ret­ary of State Wendy Sher­man and Dav­id Co­hen, the Treas­ury De­part­ment un­der sec­ret­ary for ter­ror­ism and fin­an­cial in­tel­li­gence, staffers for the le­gis­lat­ors said.

Wash­ing­ton sees eco­nom­ic lever­age as its most crit­ic­al tool in a dip­lo­mat­ic bid to win longer-term re­stric­tions on Ir­a­ni­an nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies rel­ev­ant to po­ten­tial arms pro­duc­tion. Tehran in­sists it has no mil­it­ary mo­tiv­a­tions for its atom­ic pro­gram.

White House spokes­man Jay Car­ney said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is mon­it­or­ing Ir­an’s oil sales “in keep­ing with the ex­pect­a­tion that we have that all na­tions will abide by their com­mit­ments” un­der sanc­tions still in force.

Pet­ro­leum sales some­times vary by month, and it is cru­cial to see if they rise “over a longer peri­od of time,” he said.

Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency on Fri­day said it has not de­veloped an as­sess­ment con­tain­ing ad­di­tion­al find­ings on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, Re­u­ters re­por­ted. The as­ser­tion came after Is­rael pressed the U.N. agency to dis­close new de­tails it re­portedly gathered.

Gill Tu­dor, a spokes­wo­man for the U.N. nuc­le­ar agency, said her or­gan­iz­a­tion “has not pre­pared any re­port con­tain­ing new in­form­a­tion re­lat­ing to pos­sible mil­it­ary di­men­sions of Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram.”

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