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Bartering is Iran's best hope to bypass sanctions

With oil exports in freefall, the country is hoping that a new EU-backed plan to help companies continue trading will work. But optimism is low

For many Iranians, it is a case of déjà vu. Under intense US pressure, the Islamic Republic's oil exports are being squeezed hard. In an echo of the darkest days of 2012, when sanctions brought Iran's exports of crude and condensate to just 1.5m barrels a day—their lowest level since 1986—the latest export figures made for grimly familiar reading. In the first week of October, Iran's crude oil exports fell to just 1.1m b/d, according to tanker data cited by Reuters. The decline has been precipitous. In April, the last month before President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran was selling 2.5m b/d

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