Iran’s oil production has reportedly been cut to almost its lowest level in 25 years.
The Financial Times quoted oil traders and industry watchers as saying that Iran’s main Asian customers – in China, India, Japan and South Korea – have slashed their imports, as has Turkey.
That follows the tightening of US and European sanctions.
However the report admits the numbers are difficult to confirm due to Tehran’s efforts to hide its true oil export totals.
This week the United States also targeted Iran’s currency for the first time, imposing sanctions on foreign financial institutions that conduct or facilitate significant transactions in the rial.
A senior US administration official said the low level of the rial was a key vulnerability for the Iranian government.
“The objective is to take aim at the rial and to make it as unusable a currency as possible, which is all part and parcel of our efforts to apply significant financial pressure on the government of Iran,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on a call with reporters.
Sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union halved Iran’s oil exports last year, depriving the government of billions of dollars in revenue, increasing already high inflation and hitting the rial’s value.
The moves are to isolate Iran for its nuclear programme. The West suspects Tehran is seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons. Iran has denied that is the case saying its efforts are purely for generating power and for medical devices.
Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi recently told the country’s Press TV that the sanctions had not impacted oil production.
During an OPEC meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna he said: “The West’s sanctions and unilateral pressure have not had any influence on crude oil production. Iran, which was a petroleum importer once, has turned into a petroleum exporter now, and is marketing for its petroleum and other oil products.”