14 November 2020 - 18:33
  • News Code: 309545
Iran, Oil and Post-Trump Era

TEHRAN (Shana) -- The US election ended with the victory of the Democratic party, and if nothing unexpected happens, Joe Biden will begin his four-year presidency on January 20; Could this change lead to the easing of US sanctions on Iran, or can it not be practically different from Trump’s presidency?

With Joe Biden taking office in the US, there has been a lot of speculation about the lifting of sanctions, the return of the United States to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the improvement of the country's economy; an issue that even led to a relative decline in prices in hard currencies on the Iranian market. In contrast, there is another popular view that Biden's presence will not make things easier if it does not make things harder for Iran; the truth and falsity of these speculations become clear only over time, but it is possible to make different estimates of the post-Trump era by considering Trump's performance and reviewing Biden's views.

Promise to Return to JCPOA

Then-Vice President Joe Biden was a supporter of the agreement at the time of the signing of the nuclease deal, and after Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement, he had called Trump's idea of ​​"reaching a better agreement" an illusion. Sanctions, careful diplomacy and the support of the international community were used to reach the nuclear deal, he had said. During his presidential campaign, Biden repeatedly referred to the issue of returning to the JCPOA, and even wrote in a note on the CNN, if Iran returns to the full implementation of its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would go back to the agreement as a starting point for negotiations.

Challenges Facing Biden

Assuming that Biden's intention to return to the JCPOA is serious, is the path to reviving this agreement a smooth one? It must be said that such an expectation cannot be correct, at least in the short term. Trump has left a remarkable legacy for Biden! The New York Times lists the challenges facing the Biden administration's foreign policy, including cold China-US relations, US distancing itself from European allies, tensions over Russia, refugee problems, as well as the withdrawal of Iran from the JCPOA regarding uranium enrichment. It is natural that Biden will need several months to adjust to his political, economic, and social priorities in the United States; In addition, the coronavirus outbreak will be the most important crisis facing him from the time he takes office at the White House. Moreover, it is not easy to reconsider and agree on provisions that have already been agreed upon over a long period of time; especially considering the history of harsh, irrational and unilateral stances of the current US administration against JCPOA and events such as the criminal act of the Trump administration in the assassination of General Soleimani. In this regard, the sabotage of the Arabs and Israel cannot be ignored, and no doubt, the approach of the next Iranian administration will play a key role in advancing or not advancing the JCPOA talks.

National Dignity and Interests

Experts in the field of international and foreign policy believe that in such a situation, Iran should conduct its public diplomacy carefully, cautiously and by taking into account all dimensions. Although Iran has the upper hand due to the US leaving the JCPOA, the US President is no longer the bullying Trump who chanted the slogan "America First" and was at odds with the world, and this can be helpful for the US to make a decision backed with the global consensus. In such circumstances, it is necessary for the country's decision-making apparatus or institutions to pay sufficient attention to the importance of lifting sanctions in order to heal the economic wounds of the country. The lifting of sanctions or even the granting of exemptions for oil exports in the first place could be a starting point for increasing hard currency earnings and the continuation of the market psychological climate in the direction of lowering prices. Let's not forget that less than two years ago, when the JCPOA was still in power, Iran's daily exports of oil and gas condensate had reached more than 2.8 million barrels, and today, for achieving only a part of these figures, a lot of hardships have to be undergone by the country. Thus logically, given the US history of belligerence against Iran and respect for national dignity, the current situation in the US government may be a good opportunity to lift sanctions and move more in line with national interests.

Iran's Return to the Oil market?

But assuming openings in oil exports, can Iran return to the oil market quickly and easily? Although the National Iranian Oil Company is ready to maximize production in a short period of time, as in has done so the past, not everything depends on supply; on the one hand, the existence of oil supply glut and the lack of demand in the market, which have become more fragile in recent months, especially due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, are the determining factors. OPEC, which worried about a shift in the balance of power in the oil market four years ago when Trump took office and his plans to increase the share of US crude oil producers, is still concerned today, given forecasts of Biden’s different policies toward Arab countries, Russia, Iran and Venezuela. It should also be borne in mind that the return of Iranian oil production to normal conditions, in addition to technical and operational difficulties, requires significant funding. "When oil is not extracted, it costs money to bring it online after a while," said President Hassan Rouhani about the return of Iran's oil production capacity during the previous sanctions period.; "After the lifting of sanctions, many of the country's oil wells needed to be repaired and prepared, and by early 2016, $800 million had been spent on repairing and operating these wells." In short, if Iranian oil is to return to the market, the Ministry of Petroleum has a difficult path ahead.

Nothing Left to be Boycott

Some media outlets say that Trump will put a flood of new sanctions on the agenda in the remaining time in office to make it impossible to lift sanctions against Iran; "There is nothing left to be targeted by sanctions," said Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh in response to such a question. Trump is not a popular figure not only in Iran, but in the world; He came to the presidency while openly acknowledging that he did not care about climate requirements. He considered global warming to be made by the Chinese, called wind turbines a disaster, and, like other Republicans, believed that environmental requirements should not affect American energy independence and economic security.

When he ran for presidency back in 2016, he announced that if elected, he would cancel many of Obama's environmental plans, and less than a month after the results were announced, Bloomberg reported that Trump was planning to reconsider a project to lay the Dokota oil pipeline in Indian territories which had been cancelled under Obama. The pipeline was not licensed in North Dakota due to protests from environmentalists. Reuters later announced that the Trump administration intended to allow drilling in all offshore areas of the United States in areas that were previously banned in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that the US government would facilitate the issuance of oil and gas drilling permits in US national forests; The news once again angered pro-environmental groups, and this cycle of anti-environmental actions continued.

After Trump

Withdrawal from international treaties and pacts, from the Pacific and New York treaties to the Paris Agreement and the JCPOA, the withdrawal from UNESCO and the Human Rights Council to the withdrawal from the World Health Organization, etc., all make Trump a threatening phenomenon for global peace and security, and perhaps that is why this time the world seemed to be watching the outcome of the US election more than ever. Biden, meanwhile, has said his administration would seek a return to the Paris climate agreement; he has also promised to reduce US emissions to zero by 2050. Biden emphasizes the transition from fossil fuels to green energy; he sees climate change as a threat to the planet and has said he will ban the issuance of new drilling permits on federal lands and waters to combat climate change. Major investments in renewable energy research, tightening car emissions regulations, tackling corporate emissions, building 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and removing carbon emissions from power plants are among Biden's other plans.

Although Trump is blocking the transfer of power, he has reached the final stage. Under these circumstances, it is wrong to have a black-and-white approach towards the future strategy of the United States. Iran must pursue its strategies by relying on its domestic capabilities as much as possible while cooperating constructively with the world under the shadow of a consensus in major decisions, while not ignoring the fact that, according to Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammas Javad Zarif, Biden and Trump are definitely different for Iran.

By Haniyeh Movahed

Translated by Abbas Hajihshemi

News Code 309545

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