The head of Iran’s national oil company admitted on Friday that Iran has systematically bypassed and avoided Western economic sanctions on its oil exports, according to state run media reports.
Ahmad Qalebani, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), recently "underlined that the Iranian nation will bypass embargoes and problems," according to the state-run Fars News Agency, which reported that Iranian oil reserves "stand at approximately $1.8 trillion."
"Iran has been able to post a record in terms of the value of its oil discoveries despite the pressure from economic sanctions," Qalebani was quoted as saying.
The House overwhelmingly voted last month to tighten economic sanctions on Tehran following the appointment of new Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, who has expressed support for the regime’s disputed nuclear program.
U.S. lawmakers warn that current sanctions have failed to impact Iran’s ruling regime, a point underscored by Qalebani’s most recent comments.
With more than $1.8 trillion in reserves and a global oil market hungry for cheap crude, Iran believes that it can easily continue to ship and sell its product.
"I should emphasize that the value of Iran’s exports of oil, condensates and oil products is higher than the figures envisaged in the budget bill," Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran’s Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Governor, was quoted as saying earlier this month by Fars.
He emphasized the "ineffectiveness of the US-led sanctions against Tehran, and said Iran's crude export has exceeded the figures envisioned in the country’s budget bill," according to Fars.
"Iran remains the second largest oil producer of OPEC right behind Saudi Arabia," Iran’s oil minister was quoted as saying during a conference earlier this month.
"We do not confirm a fall in Iran's oil production and this is quite untrue," Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi claimed.
The $1.8 trillion in reserves "has been calculated based on the current oil and gas prices," according to Qalebani.
U.S. officials have begun to take an increasingly critical view of Rowhani, who was once dubbed a "moderate.
Rowhani has already appointed many controversial officials into his cabinet, including a general who has been tied to the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Rowhani’s pick for oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, has already called on officials "to close ranks and take united action to neutralize western sanctions on Iran’s energy sector."
Former Pentagon advisor Michael Rubin said that U.S. officials should be paying attention to these officials.
"It's important to take Iranian officials at their word," said Rubin, a former Pentagon advisor on Iran and Iraq. "When [former President Ali] Rafsanjani suggested that an Iranian nuclear first strike on Israel might not be a bad idea, he meant exactly that."
"When Iranian leaders declared their intent to wipe Israel off the face of the earth in both Farsi and English speeches, they meant exactly that," Rubin said. "When Revolutionary Guard commanders say they seek to force Americans to flee beaten and humiliated, they mean just that. And when regime officials say sanctions aren't having much of an impact, they are also speaking the truth. Perhaps it's time to put the crippling in crippling sanctions."
Watchdog groups have presented a mounting body of evidence that implicates several European companies in Iranian oil shipping schemes.
One Swedish shipping company was caught making multiple stops at several Iranian oil ports that are connected with the country’s military.
Rowhani, meanwhile, recently appointed former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as the next head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI).
Salehi, who worked under former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has claimed in the past that Iran is the "main victim" of terrorism.