2 June 2021 - 14:01
  • News Code: 317013
One Year On, Kazempour Ardebili Loss Still Felt

TEHRAN (Shana) -- Last year on April 17, Iran’s long-serving governor for OPEC Hossein Kazempour Ardebili passed away. A figure of international renown, he was a key official in Iran’s petroleum industry, not to mention his long background in political and economic sectors.

Owing to his long years of serving as Iran’s governor for OPEC, Kazempour Ardebili was instrumental in preserving Iran’s oil production quota within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Many experts believe that without his consultations, Iran could not reach such a position.

Ever since serving at the Ministry of Commerce until long years of service at the Petroleum Ministry; Kazempour Ardebili was dedicated to serving the nation. Thanks to his experience in the ministries of foreign affairs and petroleum, he had grown into a seasoned negotiator who won praise from peers. The architect of Iran's oil diplomacy, internationally renowned petroleum industry figure, lobbying diplomat and anti-sanctions combatant were just some of titles given to him in national and international media.

To honor Kazempour Ardebili, "Iran Petroleum" has conducted interviews with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Deputy Minister of Petroleum for International Affairs and Trade Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia.

Qualified Diplomat

Minister Zarif is among Iranian officials well familiar with Kazempour Ardebili. Zarif said Kazempour Ardebili was a fully qualified diplomat, noting that the resistance exercised by Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh and Kazempour in favor of Iran’s OPEC quota was highly commendable.

“Kazempour was not only an oil diplomat. He was also a competent economic diplomat. He was also a security and political diplomat. As far as security and political relations are concerned, Kazempour Ardebili had his ideas in wartime,’ he said.

“He served as deputy foreign minister for international affairs. He revived Iran’s economic ties with Japan. He attracted unique facilities from Japan. His political contacts with various people were very important. When he was in Japan, he had established communications with then director general of Japan’s foreign ministry. He was successful in tough political issues. He generously shared his ideas with us and he was helpful. He was well informed of restrictions to negotiators. Some are accustomed to sitting outside and just giving orders. But Kazempour was first and foremost a negotiator and therefore he offered very reasonable proposals. He knew what is possible and what is not in talks.”

Respecting Frameworks

Regarding implementation of instructions by Kazempour, Zarif said: “As Iran’s ambassador to Japan, deputy foreign minister for economic and international affairs, Iran's governor for OPEC and deputy minister of petroleum, Kazempour acted within frameworks set for him. But when he returned to Tehran and wanted to write reports, he spoke openly about problems even though it would have not favored him in person. He was outspoken in expressing his own weaknesses. I believe that rather than being in need of specialized manpower in our country, we need courageous ones. An outstanding feature of Hossein Kazempour Ardebili was that he did not seek his own serenity. All those who liked him was because of his free-spirited nature.”

JCPOA, OPEC

Zarif also turned to Kazempour Ardebili’s role in the talks leading to the 2015 nuclear deal, officially termed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The Petroleum Ministry made maximum use of the JCPOA and that is commendable. That was thanks to the management of Mr. Zangeneh in person and such qualified figures as Hossein Kazempour. Iran’s oil production level was raised to more than pre-sanctions levels,” he said.

Zarif said that after the JCPOA was implemented, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and such persons as Zangeneh and Kazempour did their best without offering any pretexts. In some cases, they hit obstacles. For instance, numerous agreements could be signed, but they faced domestic opposition. “However, we did our best to make maximum benefit from that opportunity. Of course, we could have benefited further,” he said.

Courage, Frankness and Futurism                            

Zamani-Nia also knows Kazempour as they both served at Iran’s Foreign Ministry. He said that Kazempour was instrumental in creating international consensus, saying he is always remembered as an honorable man at international forums.

“I learned my first lesson in multilateral and international talks from Kazempour. I also learned from him at the Petroleum Ministry. I had no knowledge of oil. He was like my mentor. That is just the appearance. More significant than that, was Kazempour’s mentality of sharing everything with others. Courage, frankness, smartness and futurism were enshrined in Kazempour. He was courageous enough,’ he said.

“Kazempour always expressed his views clearly. He was very courageous and frank. He was better placed than his peers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Petroleum. He knew how to strike a balance between his professional and private life,” he said.

Kazempour and JCPOA

Referring to Kazempour’s involvement with JCPOA talks, he said: “Kazempour and Zarif were close friends. Kazempour was not directly involved with the JCPOA talks, but he told Mr. Zarif whatever he had in mind and he exchanged views with him. They listened to each other and made necessary planning. Zarif and Kazempour were in contact in the run-up to the JCPOA.”

“The JCPOA was a turning point in the political history of Iran. Iran’s oil sector was the main beneficiary of the JCPOA. Foreign delegates from Asian and European nations flooded Iran. We drew maximum benefit from the JCPOA in the oil sector. We regained our lost market share twice. We had started development work and attraction of foreign investors but due to the IPC and the hawks in Iran, everything lingered on,” he said.

Talks for Saving Iran Share

Zamani-Nia said: “Kazempour was helpful in various sectors. His contribution to the revival of Iran’s share in OPEC was marked. That was achieved following talks with fellow member states in order to preserve Iran’s share in OPEC. When [US] sanctions were back in place, OPEC was to cut shares in a bid to strike a balance in the oil price, but Kazempour resisted and Iran’s oil production was set at the highest figure we had reached after the [1979 Islamic] Revolution. That was not just Kazempour’s smartness; rather, he was internationally famous among peers.”

Consensus-Maker

Building consensus in international forums was another outstanding feature of Kazempour, said Zamani-Nia.   

He said Kazempour was always quick in establishing contracts with others. “Within five minutes, he broke all ice and entered friendly ties. His ties were always strong.”

He was a famous oil diplomat because working at international energy forums has a diplomatic nature, he said.

“A diplomat has to safeguard national interests, but others should be also convinced about their own interests. Consensus should be built. Who can do so? That is multilateral diplomacy. Therefore, Kazempour is well described as an oil diplomat,” said Zamani-Nia.

“A diplomat should by no means be infuriated. If you get angry during multilateral talks you’ll lose. Kazempour was always smiling and he knew how to develop and implement ideas,” he said.

“He was in close contact with Prince Abdul Aziz, but he knew how to deal with him in favor of national interests,” he said.

Zamani-Nia said Kazempour always kept his friendly ties with others despite conflict of national interests with his peers from fellow OPEC member states.

News Code 317013

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