Iran's oil exports have risen this year, according to Bloomberg calculations, a trend that threatens to violate U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic's main source of revenue.
Shipments of Iranian crude oil and condensate have increased about 28 percent on average this year, according to an analysis of customs data from importing nations and figures from the International Energy Agency in Paris. If crude sales are up by the end of July, that would break an international accord to hold Iran's oil exports at the same level in the first half of this year that they were at in the previous six months.
Questioned in Congress yesterday about possible sanctions violations, an Obama administration official who monitors Iran's oil exports said he's confident Iranian crude shipments have remained within the limits set in a six-month agreement signed Jan. 20 that granted Iran limited sanctions relief in exchange for some nuclear concessions.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, who's advised Congress on ways to tighten sanctions against Iran, said lenient enforcement of oil sanctions during the negotiations sends a bad message.
"If this is an example of how strictly they will enforce any final nuclear agreement with Iran, then Iran should feel more confident that they will be able to exploit any loopholes with impunity," he said.