TEHRAN, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A decline in oil exports, largely because of Western economic sanctions, has cost the Iranian economy more than $100 billion, a senior official said.
Iran under the terms of a November 2013 agreement is allowed some oil exports in exchange for commitments to curb some of its nuclear research activity. Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the influential Expediency Council, said exports since have dropped by 1.5 million barrels per day and inflicted more than $100 billion in revenue losses.
Iranian officials have said the government is working to decrease the share of oil revenues in the budget. The government in early January said non-oil exports from the beginning of the Iranian year, which starts in March, increased to $35 billion, or about 20 percent year-on-year.
Iran emerged from recession last month, which a government spokesman said came as a result of heavy government investments in national development projects. Rezaei, however, said a budget that relies in part on oil revenues could incur heavy damage should the low price of oil continue.
"Over the past two months, price sanctions, which happened with the help of countries like Saudi Arabia, have caused a 50 percent decline in Iran's oil price," he said.
Iran historically has been a hawk in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, advocating for a price per barrel of around $100. OPEC leader Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of the 12-member group, has said it would hold its production steady, rather than trim it in an effort to boost global prices.
Iranian officials have said they envision a budget for the next calendar year based on oil priced at about $70 per barrel, about 20 percent higher than the current market price.