Iran said it hopes it can revive the nuclear deal with world powers by August, when President Hassan Rouhani’s administration ends, and reach an agreement with the U.S. that would ease sanctions on its economy and oil exports.
Ali Rabiei, spokesman for Iran’s government, said there were “no obstacles” in the way of negotiators in Vienna who are in their eighth week of talks to restore the beleaguered 2015 accord. Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal three years ago and reimposed a raft of penalties on Iran, prompting it to roll back its own compliance with enrichment and other curbs.
“We’re close to an understanding over principal, nuclear issues,” Rabiei told reporters in a televised news conference, adding “some differences such as Trump’s sanctions and Iran’s measures need to be worked out”.
Iranian officials had hoped that the landmark deal would be fully revived by June 18 presidential elections, after which Rouhani’s presidency will start to wind down. He’s widely expected to be succeeded by a hardliner who will be more hostile to the U.S. and the nuclear deal.
Brent gained 1.60%, trading around $70, following the comments as markets modified expectations of when Washington is likely to ease sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. Iranian oil exports, which are the country’s largest single source of foreign currency revenue, have plunged since Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal.
Rabiei didn’t give further details but his comments follow a statement from Iran’s lead negotiator at the talks, Abbas Araghchi, who told Iranian state TV on Monday that the talks were very complicated and diplomats will probably need more time to resolve outstanding issues.
He said it looked less likely that an agreement with the U.S. will be finalized in the current round of talks and delegations were likely to return to their capital cities by the end of the week to consult with their governments on sticking points.
Oil markets are closely watching the talks for clues about when U.S. sanctions are likely to be eased on the oil-rich Islamic Republic and trigger the return of Iranian crude to the market.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet later on Tuesday to discuss the impact of both looser coronvirus restrictions and a possible flood of Iranian exports into the market on a broader output agreement with non-OPEC producers including Russia.
If a deal is reached and Washington lifts sanctions, Iran may be able to ramp up exports quickly. Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Monday his country should aim to raise production to a record 6.2 million barrels a day.
Analysts estimate daily output could rise to about 4 million barrels from 2.4 million.
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