Iran Says it Will Become an ‘Energy Player’ After Agreement

Top government officials in Iran said Wednesday that a nuclear agreement will allow the Islamic Republic to become the number one energy player in the Middle East and herald major opportunities for foreign companies, AFP reports.

The remarks, at an industry event, underlined the broader political and economic implications should sanctions on Iran be lifted under a deal, following long-running diplomatic efforts with six world powers.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, who as nuclear talks have progressed in recent months has signaled willingness to see global oil giants return, said cooperation was essential.

"We have to use the foreign companies that will come to us after the removal of sanctions… to increase exports and access regional markets," he was quoted as having said in a speech at Iran's 20th Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Fair.

"It is understandable that they left us during hard times. But we hope to prepare ourselves to work with them for a future in which we become the industry's number one in the region," he added, according to AFP.

His comments also seemed aimed at Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, with which Iran is locked in a fierce dispute over the conflict in Yemen, and with whom relations have been worsening.

During the nuclear crisis Iran has relied on domestic oil firms and though this will continue, Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, at the same event as Zanganeh, said, "We don't have any option but to join the international production and distribution chain."

New contracts prepared by the oil ministry would lure energy majors back, he said.

"We expect that after presenting the models of the new agreements, which are based on the realities of the global energy market, they will be so attractive that it will bring the foreign investment,” said Jahangiri, according to AFP.

"Iran is very determined that after a very short period of time after signing the nuclear agreement we can take back our position in the global oil industry," he added.

Iran has continuously insisted that all sanctions that have been imposed against it be removed as soon as a deal is reached.

Last month, after a preliminary framework was reached, tensions arose between the United States and Iran after as the Islamic Republic accused the United States of "fraud" and "psychological warfare". Those accusations came after Washington published a fact sheet announcing what the U.S. claims was agreed on in the framework deal and which an Iranian official called a false translation.

Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will have the final say on any deal, plunged the accord into doubt last week suggesting that "nothing is binding" while President Hassan Rouhani demanded that sanctions be immediately lifted when any deal is signed.

While some countries have begun to engage with Iran, the chief American negotiator Wendy Sherman last week called on India and other countries to wait for a final nuclear deal between Iran and world powers before actively engaging with Tehran.


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