US confirms Iran's compliance with nuclear deal
Washington, 19 April (Argus) — President Donald Trump's administration has gone on record confirming that Iran continues to comply with the agreement that lifted nuclear-related sanctions on the country in January 2016.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, in a letter submitted to House speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) yesterday, certified that Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The letter is the first explicit statement from the new administration confirming Tehran has abided by the terms of the nuclear deal.
Former president Barack Obama's administration committed to informing Congress every 90 days whether Tehran was complying, in exchange for lifting restrictions on Iran's crude exports. Since the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions, Iran has increased production by more than 900,000 b/d to 3.8mn b/d in March.
Trump still denounces the deal, even though his administration's approach to Iran has not departed greatly from the path his predecessor took. Congressional opponents of the nuclear deal likewise have moderated their criticism and stated the need to implement the agreement.
But relations between Tehran and Washington remain tense. Each side has denounced the other's actions in the Middle East as hegemonic. "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods," Tillerson said. The White House National Security Council is reviewing whether lifting the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran is in vital national security interests of the US, Tillerson said. "When the interagency review is completed, the administration looks forward to working with Congress on this issue."
The sanctions targeting Iranian oil sales are merely suspended, as they are written into US legislation. The administration needs to continue to certify that the suspension, under the terms of the nuclear deal, is in US national security interests.
Shell and Total are exploring upstream opportunities in Iran, but both majors have cited uncertainty about future US sanctions.
The need to coordinate sanctions programs with the EU is likely a key driver in the new administration's approach. EU officials also persuaded US senators to delay advancing a widely supported bill to expand the scope of sanctions on Iran over the missile tests until after the 19 May presidential election in Iran.
"Protecting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is one of the most important political, economic and domestic issues of the Iranian nation," Iranian president Hassan Rohani said on 14 April, after registering to run for re-election.