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U.S. sees no signs of Iranian oil deal with Russia

Deal, if it exists, would be "very troubling" for key House committee.

By Daniel J. Graeber
U.S. sees no signs of Iranian oil deal with Russia
U.S. has no indication there's a deal between Iran and Russia on oil. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- There are no indications Iran has reached a deal to swap oil for goods with the Russian government, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said.

Iran in April said it was in serious negotiations with the Russian government to swap oil for goods. In a letter sent Monday, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said sanctions on Iran's energy sector should be able to interrupt the deal.

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"It is very troubling that a potential agreement with Russia could allow Iran to increase its oil exports by nearly 500,000 additional barrels per day," his letter to Secretary of State John Kerry read.

Marie Harf, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, told reporters during her regular press briefing Tuesday, however, that no such arrangement was in place.

"We have no indications that reports of an oil-for-goods deal have moved forward with Russia," she said.

Iran can export around 1 million bpd under the terms of a November arrangement that brought some relief from economic sanctions in exchange for a commitment to curb nuclear research activity.

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The State Department expressed similar concerns when Iran and Russia in April discussed upgrading Iran's power plants and electrical transmission lines. Both sides already work together in the nuclear sector, with Russia supplying fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility.

Russia is under pressure from a U.S. government frustrated with the Kremlin's reaction to Ukraine's move toward the European Union, while Iran is facing its own pressure from sanctions imposed for its controversial nuclear program.

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