Iran minister: Tehran secretly defying US sanctions with ‘unofficial’ oil sales

Bijan Zanganeh scant on details, but says Iran covertly circumventing ‘evil’ American oil embargo through ‘unconventional means’

This photo from March 12, 2017, shows an Iranian laborer walking the platform of the oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. (AFP/Atta Kenar)
This photo from March 12, 2017, shows an Iranian laborer walking the platform of the oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. (AFP/Atta Kenar)

Iran is keeping up oil sales through “unconventional” means to circumvent US sanctions, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in an interview published Saturday.

“We have unofficial or unconventional sales, all of which are secret, because if they are made known America would immediately stop them,” he said, quoted by the oil ministry’s SHANA news agency.

Zanganeh declined to give details on Iran’s oil exports, saying he would not disclose figures until sanctions were lifted.

In May 2018, Washington withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that granted Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.

Washington reimposed oil sanctions on Iran last November, but initially gave eight countries, including several allies such as China, six-month waivers.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. (CC-BY Wikimedia/

Iran’s oil shipments tumbled to 750,000 barrels per day in April compared to 1.5 million in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The White House in May ended all the waivers as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. A month later, it designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a “foreign terrorist organization,” paving the way for sanctions against their sources of funding.

According to Zanganeh, the US has reached an “evil maturity” in tightening the noose on Iran’s economy using “smart sanctions.”

“The most severe organized sanctions in history are currently being imposed on Iran,” he said.

The remarks came after the US Treasury announced new sanctions on Friday against Iran’s largest and most profitable petrochemicals group PGPIC for allegedly doing business with the IRGC.

US President Donald Trump talks with reporters before departing on Marine One for the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony, May 30, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the new sanctions another instance of “economic terrorism” and a continuation of US “enmity” against Iran.

“America’s maximum pressure policy is a failed policy tried numerous times before by the country’s previous presidents. This a wrong path and the US government can be sure that it will not achieve any of the goals set for this policy,” Mousavi said on Saturday.

Last week, US President Donald Trump said he would be willing to reopen talks as long as Iran agreed to give up nuclear weapons. But Tehran has ruled out negotiating with the US until it is ready to “return to normal.”

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