Iranians should diversify their economies in long term instead of just relying on oil revenues, a former US Secretary of Energy said on Tuesday amid ongoing US-Iran talks in Austria aimed at lifting the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.
Speaking at virtual Citizens Energy Congress, Ernest Moniz who served as Secretary of Energy during the term of the 44th US President Barack Obama, said Iran could easily reach to its pre-sanctions oil production level.
Predicting that the sanctions on Iranian oil sector would be eventually lifted, Moniz said if two countries reach an agreement, "while many sanctions will remain in place, as they did in 2015, clearly, the sanctions on oil sales will be removed."
"We saw it when the agreement was signed in 2015 that Iran was able to lift its oil exports back into the 2.5-3 million barrels a day range that was there before the sanctions, and I see no reason not to expect a similar issue here," he said.
Moniz also warned that other oil rich countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates really work hard to diversify their economy economies, and "that's a message to the Iranians."
He said relying on oil revenues in the long term is probably not the best business model for Iranians.
Over the past several weeks, Iran and other signatories to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been engaged in marathon negotiations in the Austrian capital Vienna to revive the accord.
Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018, and not only reimposed sweeping sanctions it had agreed to lift under the deal but imposed new ones in the hope that the penalties would bring Iran back to negotiations for what Trump hoped would be a "better" deal.
Iran resisted his efforts and instead stepped away from the nuclear restrictions it agreed to under the accord as regional tensions between the US and the Islamic Republic soared.
The JCPOA is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1, comprising the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- China, France, Russia, the UK and the US -- plus Germany together with the European Union.
By Sibel Morrow