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Iran Oil-Swap Chatter Prompts New U.S. Warning to Russia

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, left, visits an offshore oil platform in 2004 with then-Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday warned against any oil-swap agreement between Iran and Russia. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, left, visits an offshore oil platform in 2004 with then-Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday warned against any oil-swap agreement between Iran and Russia. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

A possible plan for Iran to swap oil for Russian goods prompted a new warning from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Lew told Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov that the potential multibillion-dollar arrangement would run against an interim nuclear accord reached in November by Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. The short-term atomic pact establishes specific curbs on international sanctions targeting Iran, and is intended to support talks aimed at eliminating global fears that the nation's nuclear activities could support bomb production.

A Treasury Department official added that Lew "reiterated [Washington's] serious concerns regarding reports of a possible deal between Russia and Iran involving oil-for-goods."

"He made clear that such a deal ... could trigger sanctions against any entity or individual involved in any related transactions," the insider said in prepared comments.

Siluanov, though, on Friday said a potential oil-barter arrangement would fall in line with U.N. regulations, Reuters reported separately.

"Our American partners have their own legislation which differs somewhat from the provisions set by the United Nations and they follow their own rules," the Russian official told reporters.

A senior Iranian official declined to comment on the potential oil-barter plan, al-Monitor reported on Friday.

"I will neither confirm nor deny this topic," the state-run Iranian newspaper Jam-e-Jam quoted Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying.

Meanwhile, Iran's daily sales of unrefined petroleum surpassed 1.6 million barrels in February, Reuters reported on Friday. The quantity -- reported by the International Energy Agency in Paris -- marked the nation's 20-month peak, and exceeded the interim nuclear pact's 1 million-barrel limit on average daily sales.

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Iran

This article provides an overview of Iran's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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