Declaring victory over US sanctions, Iran has launched four new phases in the South Pars gas field, the largest in the world.
President Hassan Rouhani spoke at the inaugural ceremony on the southern Iran coast on Sunday:
The Americans did not want us to inaugurate any important projects during the current year, but we made all projects operational on schedule.
Today is a very auspicious day for the Iranian nation, which has dealt strong blows to enemies, because they thought that by imposing sanctions, they would be able to stop all our plans and advances.
The Oil Ministry said Iran has invested $11 billion to complete the four phases, raising gas production capacity by up to 110 million cubic meters per day. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran, which shares South Pars with Qatar, hopes to operate 27 phases by next March.
Zanganeh said gas production at South Pars will exceed 750 million cubic meters per day by late 2019.
Last May, Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia). Washington then imposed comprehensive sanctions, including on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, from November 5.
Iran’s oil exports have halved from last April, when it shipped about 2.5 million barrels per day. Further cuts have been buffered by US sanctions waivers, which expire in May, for Tehran’s largest customers suc.h as China, India, Japan, and South Korea.
France’s Total and the China National Petroleum Corporation suspended investment in phase 11 of South Pars last year amid the threat of US sanctions.
With the sanctions on top of long-standing internal problems, Iran is facing difficulties with employment, trade, production, investment, and a historically-weak currency.
“Sue US for Crimes Against Humanity”
Rouhani, who has been criticized by hardliners for adhering to the nuclear deal, said on Sunday, “Without the [deal], opening 15 phases of South Pars in such a short time would have been impossible.”
He continued with a tougher line: “We should resist to make the United States that it is going the wrong direction. The judiciary should sue US authorities and the architects of sanctions for crimes against humanity.”
Yet, even amid proclamations of triumph, Rouhani could not avoid any reference to economic challenges:
They keep throwing rocks at our windows, breaking the glass. Of course, we cannot make glasses that do not break when somebody throws rocks at it….
Involvement in a war is not possible without somebody getting killed or injured.