Gulf oil shares drop as Iran sanctions lifted

Sanctions against Iran have been lifted after almost 40 years as international inspectors confirmed that Iran’s nuclear program is now sufficiently limited. The International Atomic Energy Agency announced in Vienna that Iran’s nuclear program was compliant with a deal aimed to stop it producing nuclear weapons.

Iran now has billions of dollars worth of previously frozen assets available, and is able to sell its oil on the international market. Iran’s entry back into the oil market has caused share prices in many Gulf states to plummet.

The Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange decreased by 7.4% on Sunday. The Qatar exchange fell 7% and Dubai’s by 4.6%.

Iran has said it will sell around 500,000 more barrels of crude oil a day, into an already saturated market. Oil prices are at 12 year low at $29 per barrel, with energy companies and world markets fearing they will drop further. In the summer of 2014 a barrel was $115.

Israel is still concerned that Iran is planning to build a nuclear bomb. American conservative politicians are also wary of the deal.

John Boehner, the former Republican Speaker in the US House of Representatives, previously said that “Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world.”

Iran also released three Iranian-American prisoners on Saturday, in a move seen to help Iranian-American relations.

One of those released is Jason Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post. Rezaian was convicted of espionage last year in a closed-door trial in Iran.

Iranian state TV named the other three prisoners as Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and and Nosratollah Khosravi.

Officials in Tehran said the release of the men is part of a swap with seven Iranians currently in American prisons. There has been no immediate confirmation of this from officials in Washington.

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, also said that 14 Iranians sought by the US will be removed from the Interpol wanted list.

The charges against Jason Rezaian have always been uncertain, and the Washington Post strenuously denied Rezaian committed any crimes. His lawyer sid that the charges against him included espionage.



The release comes days after 10 US sailors were detained by Iran after entering their waters in the Persian Gulf. The release of four prisoners and the swift return of the American sailors has been said to show a further improvement in American-Iranian diplomatic relations.