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Russia revisits oil-for-goods deal with Iran

Long-mentioned deal met with Western frustration.

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Russia's minister of economic development said an oil-for-goods deal with Iran is on the cusp of realization.

The deal in which Iran would send oil to Russia has been in the works for much of the year.

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"We can export a big volume of our non-raw materials exports, such as equipment for the oil and gas industry, agricultural machinery, motor vehicles, aircraft, railway cars, power machines, electricity generators," Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told reporters Sunday from Moscow.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh has hinted that the Iranian government endorsed such a deal, but nothing was formalized. Both sides already cooperate in a variety of fields, with Russia supplying fuel for Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr.

Both countries are also the targets of Western economic sanctions, with Russia facing pressure for its stance on Ukraine and Iran getting squeezed for its controversial nuclear program. Multilateral nuclear negotiations with Iran were extended last month to June.

Iran has long been searching for a way around the U.S. dollar to circumvent sanctions imposed by Western powers in response to its controversial nuclear program. Russia's currency has sunk to new lows as its economy struggles under Western sanctions.

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"Mechanisms of using national currencies in mutual relations [between Russia and Iran]... that involve lending in national currencies and using contracts in national currencies should be established," the Russian minister added.

It's not clear when such a deal would be formalized. U.S. officials have said it would be "very troubling" if it were to materialize.

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