The international incident involving the capture of U.S. sailors by Iran was quickly put to rest.
Ten U.S. serviceman were taking into custody by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on January 12 after they strayed into Iranian waters. The men, onboard two small naval crafts, ended up in Iranian territory because of technical problems with their ships.
After a swift investigation, Iran quickly released the sailors back into international waters, satisfied that the trespassing was inadvertent. The release eased tensions. “We decided to release them after conducting a technical investigation and consultations with our national security officials, and also after establishing that their trespassing into the waters of the Islamic Republic was unintentional,” the Fars News agency said in a statement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday to resolve the issue, a conversation between two officials that would have been improbable a few years ago when the countries did not speak to each other. Related: There Might Be More Oil Under The North Sea Than Previously Thought
Of course, the timing of the incident is crucial. We are just days away from “Implementation Day” – the much-anticipated day that international sanctions are removed from Iran following the July 2015 nuclear agreement.
Iran announced on January 11 that it had removed the core of the nuclear reactor at Arak and filled it with concrete, a required step under the 2015 agreement. As a result, news reports are surfacing that suggest that Implementation day could happen as soon as the opening of financial markets this coming Monday. The IAEA is expected to give Iran a clean bill of health by the end of this week. That is the final hurdle before the EU, the U.S., and the UN remove the sanctions regime. Related: War Between Saudi Arabia And Iran Could Send Oil Prices To $250
Lifting sanctions will allow Iran to finally begin freely exporting oil, which could add to the current oversupply woes. Additional supply from Iran will weigh on crude oil prices, although the effect of Iran coming back to the market has likely already been taken into account by the markets to some degree. Iran has vowed to quickly ramp up exports by an additional 500,000 barrels per day.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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