Iran nuclear

 

Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh (left) shakes hands with Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of Total, after signing the deal

Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh (left) shakes hands with Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of Total, after signing the deal  © Getty Images

Total’s deal over the development of the next phase of Iran’s huge South Pars gas field was announced in Tehran on Monday to coincide with President Emmanuel Macron’s State of the Nation address at Versailles. The deal is a sign of both France’s renewed self-confidence and the ever-changing dynamics of politics in the Middle East. For the international oil and gas business, it marks the beginning of re-engagement in Iran after almost 40 years of exclusion.

Having been mildly critical of one of France’s large companies last week, it is good to be able to praise another one. Total has shown the nerve to ignore the hostility to Iran displayed by the US administration. President Donald Trump has roundly criticised his predecessor Barack Obama’s deal to control Iranian nuclear developments but has offered nothing in its place. Continuing US sanctions and the threat of more attempts to isolate Iran have kept most western companies away. Total has decided not to fall in line. Read more

Nowhere is the failure of the talks between the international community and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme more welcome than in Riyadh. A fudged deal would have given legitimacy to the government in Tehran and confirmed the weakness of the strategic alliance between Saudi Arabia and the US.

More important still, it would have raised the prospect of the Saudis having to make serious cuts in oil production and exports to support the price of the output from Opec, the oil producers’ cartel. These are cuts the kingdom can ill afford. But, sooner or later, Iran will be on its way back into the oil market. Read more



The sanctions imposed on Iran are not working. The Iranian economy is in a mess with shortages and inflation. But, as a very interesting paper just published by Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute shows, it is not collapsing. Non-essential imports have been cut back and a range of exports – including minerals, cement and agricultural products – are actually growing. Iran’s main trading partners are Iraq, China, the UAE and India. Unemployment is high and no one believes the official figures, but it is probably lower than that of Spain. And, most seriously, oil sanctions are breaking down.

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