Iran is the fifth-largest oil-producing nation, but has found it more difficult to export oil at full capacity amid increasing isolation from Western countries following Washington’s pull-out from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposition of the “toughest-ever” sanctions.
Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri claims that Tehran is continuing to sell oil, despite US sanctions on its oil exports, Reuters reported.
“Despite America’s pressure … and its imposed sanctions on our oil exports, we still continue to sell our oil by using other means … when even friendly countries have stopped purchasing our crude fearing America’s penalties”, Jahangiri said.
He continued on by saying that the US has “failed to bring our oil exports to zero as planned”.
The statement comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in November that Washington would terminate its sanctions waiver beginning on 15 December and called on Tehran to immediately cease its uranium enrichment activities.
Washington’s sanctions have hindered Iran in selling its crude oil abroad, cutting into a vital source of government income. While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani guaranteed that the money collected from cutting gasoline subsidies would go to the poor, Tehran also requires cutting back spending in order to overcome the sanctions.
Even with the hike in gasoline prices, Iran still subsidises fuel prices. Its economy continues to be largely state-planned, despite privatisation efforts. Among other major subsidies are bread and wheat, diesel fuel, heating oil, and electricity.
In the meantime, Iranian Minister of Industry and Trade Reza Rahmani promised that prices will not be raised through the end of the current Iranian year, which ends on 21 March. However, the rise in gasoline prices came swiftly and without warning overnight, signalling that further cuts likely would follow the same way in order to attempt and control the outcry.
Nationwide protests in Iraq began in early October, with people demanding the government’s resignation, as well as economic reforms, better living conditions, social welfare, and an end to corruption.
The unrest has reportedly left over 400 people killed and thousands more injured.