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TEHRAN: Oil-rich Iran says it is ready to step up its crude exports once US sanctions are lifted if talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal succeed, official media reported Thursday.

The comments came as global oil prices have surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with West Texas Intermediate Thursday crude topping $115 per barrel, the highest since 2008.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to increase its production and exports to the pre-November 2018 level," Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji was quoted as saying by the official IRNA agency.

Owji was referring to November 5, 2018 when the US under then president Donald Trump reimposed sanctions against Iran's oil sector, following its withdrawal in May that year from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

"It is up to the major consuming countries to take the necessary steps to maintain stability and calm in the oil market," Owji had said Wednesday after an OPEC meeting, according to Shana, the ministry's official agency.

In that meeting, the oil-rich Gulf states had failed to respond to Western pressure to increase crude output, prioritising their own strategic and economic interests.

"I promise to reach the highest oil export capacity within one to two months as soon as the green light from Vienna is given," Owji said.

The minister had, in comments on February 6, estimated his country's export capacity at 2.5 million barrels per day, out of total production of about 4 million bpd, according to the Shana agency.

"Iran is technically and operationally capable of stabilising its export share in the world market after the lifting of sanctions," he said.

Crude oil prices were already rising sharply before the Ukraine war amid supply shortages due to a strong recovery in global demand caused by the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in many countries.

Surging oil prices are playing a major role in sending global inflation to the highest levels in decades, forcing central banks to hike interest rates.

In recent days, negotiators have reported progress in the ongoing talks in Vienna aimed at salvaging the nuclear deal Iran reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

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