The Iranians Blew It
For almost two and a half years, from January 2016 until now, Iran enjoyed many of the benefits of economic sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear program under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It could export its oil and receive payment, albeit with practical difficulties. But during this period, which saw a new administration enter the White House, the Iranians overplayed their hand and thought they had infinite time. So argues Robin Mills, non-resident fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy, in a new commentary.
While Iran restored its oil production to pre-sanctions levels during this period and commenced gas exports to Iraq, Mills notes, it failed to attract much energy investment, even when conditions were at their most favorable. The country was far too slow in unveiling its new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) and when it did, potential investors complained the terms were unattractive.
The recent US withdrawal from the Iran deal has been portrayed as a reimposition of sanctions on Iran. It is also an imposition of extraterritorial sanctions on the EU, China, India, and any other buyer of Iranian oil. As such, Mills argues that Iran has missed many chances to use its energy resources strategically and now its economic survival depends on maintaining some unlikely diplomatic and commercial alliances.