N-deal with Iran may ease curbs, benefit gas project: US

NDEALWASHINGTON: The United States has said it can further relax restrictions on Iran’s oil products if it signs a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Pakistan can also benefit from this relaxation, as it could allow Islamabad to complete the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project.

The US-led restrictions on Iranian oil products have adversely affected the $7.5 billion project. Work on the Iranian side of the project is almost complete but Pakistan complains that the US and EU sanctions have prevented it from completing its side of the pipeline.

“Obviously, there’s not a deal yet, so if there’s an agreement we can certainly speak to that,” said State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki when asked if an agreement with Iran would also relax restrictions on Iran’s oil products.

Ms Psaki said the United States reviews those restrictions every year and puts out annual reports and would do so after signing a nuclear deal as well.

The United States and five other nations — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — are currently negotiating a deal with Iran and hope to finalise it by the end of this month.

The agreement would persuade Iran to cap its nuclear programme in return for ending US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In December 2013, Iran and the six world powers signed a preliminary deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme but this arrangement did not relax sanctions on Iranian oil products.

The energy sanctions slashed Iran’s oil exports from 2.5 million barrels per day to around one million barrels. US sanctions also bar Iran from repatriating oil earnings and force its customers to pay into a bank in their country. Washington estimates that Iran has around $100 billion in foreign exchange earnings trapped in such accounts.

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