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Iran expects to restore oil output within month of US lifting sanctions

A senior official at the National Iranian Oil Company said that if the United States lifts sanctions on Iran, the country expects to restore its crude oil output to pre-sanctions levels in a matter of months.
ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

Iran will quickly scale up its crude oil output if US sanctions are lifted as part of a revived nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers, a senior official at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) told state media outlets. 

“If sanctions are lifted, the bulk of Iran’s output will be restored within one month, with full output restoration happening within three months,” Farokh Alikhani, NIOC’s production manager, told Shana news agency. 

"Careful planning has been done to restore oil output to pre-sanctions levels in intervals of one week, one month and three months," Alikhani said, adding that Iran planned to increase output to 3.3 million barrels a day within a month of the lifting of sanctions.

But during a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimated that “hundreds” of sanctions — including ones imposed by the Donald Trump administration — would remain if the United States reenters the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“If they are not inconsistent with the JCPOA, they will remain unless and until Iran’s behavior changes,” he said, without specifying if those sanctions include penalties on Iran’s Central Bank and oil sector. 

Since April, Iran and the original signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement have been meeting in Vienna to salvage the deal that Trump withdrew from in 2018. Tehran and Washington are at odds over which side will make the first move and the Iranians insist the United States remove all sanctions, even those levied for human rights violations, terrorism and other non-nuclear reasons. 

Blinken said it remains to be seen whether the Iranians are “willing and prepared” to resume compliance with the JCPOA. Since the United States abandoned the deal, Iran has steadily violated its obligations, including by increasing its supply of enriched uranium and putting advanced centrifuges into use. 

The secretary said Iran’s nuclear program is “galloping forward” and its so-called breakout time to build a bomb could drop to a matter of weeks if the JCPOA violations continue. 

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