Iranian oil minister: Iran is not ready to talk to the US until sanctions are lifted

Iran’s petroleum minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

Stefan Wermuth | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Iran is not ready to engage in talks with the United States until sanctions are lifted, an Iranian oil minister told CNBC on Monday.

“Iran is not ready to open discussions with United States,” said Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh at the OPEC meeting in Vienna to CNBC’s Brian Sullivan. “If United States and the administration wants to change the environment between the two countries, firstly [it] should leave all sanctions put against Iranian oil and other areas. Then, [the U.S.] will see significant change in the environment and then we can do many things.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have escalated in recent weeks, following attacks on oil tankers and a U.S. drone near the Strait of Hormuz that the U.S. alleges were executed by Iran. Although Iran denies it carried out the tanker attacks and said the drone was in Iranian airspace, last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Iran in response to the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone.

The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel between the borders of Iran and Oman, accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s seaborne oil traffic.

When asked if it is safe for tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, Zanganeh emphasized that the oil market should be depoliticized.

“I don’t know who has done against the ships in Oman but in [the] Iranian side, during the more than 100 years, we secured the market and we repeated it for many times that the market, the oil market, should be depoliticized,” said Zanganeh.

“The oil market should be depoliticized for all,” he said. “Its not a tool to use against some countries to limit its export and others. Oil is oil.”

Iran is OPEC’s third-largest oil producer prior to the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions.

Oil prices surged on Monday on reports that OPEC+ is set to extend production cuts and the trade truce between the U.S. and China boosted sentiment for the commodity in a weakening global economy. Prices also got a boost on news that Iran breached its nuclear agreement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran breached the limit of its enriched uranium stockpile set in 2015, Reuters reported. Zarif confirmed that Iran had gone over the relevant limit of 300 kg of uranium.

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