Iran is en route to ramping up its oil production and exportation to pre-sanction levels. Back in 2018, the United States, under the Trump administration, left the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA). The exiting of the JPCOA was precipitated by a lack of transparency regarding Iran’s nuclear program and other violations of the agreement. Additionally, the JPCOA was a flawed deal that all but ensured Iran would be able to obtain nuclear weapons on an extended timeline. In effect, the JPCOA offered Iran economic concessions in exchange for a temporary delay in nuclear weapons development.
Under the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Iran’s oil exportation dropped from 2.6 million barrels of oil each day to 385,000 barrels of oil per day. According to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, these sanctions put significant pressure on Tehran, hampering the regime’s primary economic resource. This pressure was serving as a means to persuade Tehran against pursuing nuclear weapons, imperialist expansion in the Middle East, funding terrorist attacks, and continuing its long history of human rights abuses.
However, presently under the Biden administration, the United States has begun lifting these sanctions in an effort to reenter a deal similar to the JPCOA. In practice, the negotiations surrounding the new deal with Iran have shaped an agreement much less favorable to the United States and significantly more beneficial to Iran and Russia. Presently, Iran has announced that its oil production and exportation are on the rise. The Islamic Republic announced that it is now producing 3.8 million barrels of oil per day, claiming it could reach full production within a couple of months. Even if this is an exaggeration by Tehran, it indicates the regime is on the economic rebound as a consequence of relaxed sanctions under the Biden administration. Moreover, under Biden’s new Iran deal, the clerical regime will gain access to nearly $131 billion in foreign assets.
The revenue that Iran stands to generate from increased oil sales is greatly increased due to the high oil prices currently in place around the world. As the United States continues to play in Iran’s favor, Tehran’s authoritarian regime stands to grow in power. Organizations researching foreign policy such as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies report Iran’s government has a long record of perpetuating human rights abuses, seeking regional expansion, funding terror attacks against the west, and pursuing nuclear weapons to aid in achieving its goals.
If the United States allows Iran to regenerate its primary economic engine, oil exportation, then Iran is being given the resources and the green light to continue with its pernicious aims. Moreover, the current deal being worked out between the United States and Iran does not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them over long ranges. Iran has been acting as an ally to Russia and China, and these developments regarding sanctions and oil only serve to strengthen this anti-American alliance. None of these developments benefit the United States’ national interests or the interests of the region Iran occupies.