by Rick Moran
When the interim deal with Iran was struck late last year, President Obama said that the agreement would give Iran about $7 billion while maintaining a ban on exports of oil.
Both of those promises have proven to be about as solid as the president's "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance" promise.
Iranian oil exports soared in January, hitting new highs just months after the United States consented to billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief under the interim nuclear deal.What happened? The president was hoodwinked by the Iranians and is too embarrassed to admit it. It's clear that Iran is interpreting the agreement in such a way as to give them maximum advantage. Either the agreement wasn't carefully drawn up - a distinct possibility - or, more likely I think, the Iranians are testing the Obama administration by seeing how far they can push the boundaries of the agreement without a response.
Exports of Iranian crude oil jumped to 1.32 million barrels, up from December's high of 1.06 million barrels, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
The spike in exports-mainly to Japan, China, and India-has helped Iran's once-ailing economy stabilize and decrease inflation. Iranian oil exports have steadily risen since negotiations with the West restored confidence in Tehran's economy. The increase runs counter to a promise by the Obama administration that "Iran's oil exports will remain steady at their current level of around 1 million barrels per day."
The significant rise in oil exports has led some experts to accuse the Obama administration of misleading the public about the amount of sanctions relief provided under the interim nuclear deal.
While the White House said Iran would receive no more than $7 billion in relief, these experts say that the rise in oil exports and other economic spikes will give Iran "well more than $20 billion."
"These numbers ... cast doubt on the accuracy of the administration's estimates for sanctions relief," former Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, said in a statement. "The $6 or $7 billion estimate does not take into account the tens of billions of dollars Iran will reap from increased oil sales."
"It is becoming more and more evident that the Geneva deal provided Iran with disproportionate sanctions relief, in exchange for far less significant concessions regarding its nuclear program," Wallace said.
Iran currently has some 30 million barrels of crude oil stored on tankers, "including 6 million barrels in vessels off China's coast," Iran's state-run media reported. It produced 30,000 more barrels in January, bringing its total to around 2.78 million, according to the report.
As international markets continue to open their arms for Tehran, South Korea is reportedly set to become Iran's next oil customer.
The reason we don't know is because the administration refuses to make the agreement public. Given the way that Washington and the rest of the west is responding to Iranian statements about their being able to continue to build new centrifuges and up their oil exports, while dragging their heels in negotiations for a permanent nuclear deal, there is not likely to be any protests.
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