As foreseen, Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine instantly roiled the oil market. In less than 24 hours, U.S.-sourced crude oil prices jumped to $100 per barrel; they later spiked to around $130 per barrel and closed at rates between $110 and $126 per barrel. North Sea-sourced Brent crude oil prices also skyrocketed, spiking to around $140 per barrel and closing as high as $128 per barrel on March 12.

These shocking rates are expected to bypass the industry’s 2008 record highs later this year — some analysts predict per barrel prices of $185 to $200 — if the sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas continue. On March 16, the International Energy Agency warned of negative impacts worldwide after April, when Russian crude oil and products are reduced by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day.

Soaring global oil prices should be a windfall to the Iranian regime. The nation could refuel its bankrupt economy and relieve the enormous poverty and social unrest that threatens to explode like a barrel of gunpowder.

In this new economic calculus, Iran could provide the necessary platform for the investment and development of its oil infrastructure, as well as provide suitable infrastructure for gas extraction. Iran has the second-largest gas reserves in the world.

However, Iran's economic growth has been moderately negative for years, and the rate of fixed capital formation is lower than the depreciation of capital. No effort has been made to repair roads, modernize industries or improve production indicators.

This trend shows that the roots of Iran's economic suffering are massive corruption and incompetence. With such an economy, can absolute poverty, which according to the regime's media covers more than half of the population, be vanquished?

There is speculation Russia is taking hostage in the negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On March 15, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov signaled some progress, saying he had received written assurances that some of the agreement documents were close to being agreed upon.

However, the Iranian state-run newspaper,, reported that, “It is learned from some figures close to Iran’s negotiating team that in recent days, US insistence on keeping key Iranian institutions on the sanctions lists, such as the IRGC's on the FTO [foreign terrorist organization] sanctions list, has led to a halt to nuclear talks at this stage.”

Iran’s insistence that its Revolutionary Guards be removed from the terrorist organizations list is clear evidence the regime does not want to give up its regional influence.

Assuming that Russia is the cause of the suspension of the negotiations, why should Tehran not have an independent position based on its own national interests in these negotiations and not be a completely passive actor on the Russian field? Tehran is ignoring the many economic and livelihood problems of the Iranian people to gain the satisfaction of the Russians. It indicates that the Iranian regime is not pursuing its national interests.

Meanwhile, the nuclear talks in Vienna, in which the Biden administration is trying to revive the 2015 JCPOA that was jettisoned in 2018 by the Trump adminstration, have been going on for 11 months. We believe the mullahs will never be willing to give up their nuclear project, since it is the foundation of their strategy. When the 2015 nuclear deal was first signed, the mullahs used the deal’s $150 billion, plus its oil revenues, to develop Iran’s militia network as well as develop missiles and nuclear programs.

The mullahs left the Iranian people to suffer in severe poverty and increasing prices for goods and services. To no one’s surprise, the people led two major uprisings in 2018 and 2019 against the regime.

Today, the mullahs want a new JCPOA to get more money for their weapons, not for the Iranian people. On March 10, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei confirmed he would not abandon Iran’s nuclear program even after sanctions are lifted under a revived JCPOA.

"Presence in regional issues is our strategic depth; this is a means of strengthening the system, a means of the power of the system,” he said. "How can we lose this when we can and should have such a thing?"

On the eve of Nowruz, Maryam Rajavi sent a firm message to the U.S. Senate, saying that Iran’s mullahs will never stop their bomb-making program, regardless of the result of the negotiations.

If the Iranian regime continues to ignore its suffering population and keeps following Islamism, which is medieval fundamentalism wrapped in religion, it is also clear it will neither give up its quest to build a nuclear bomb nor stop threatening and undermining its neighbors.

Instead, we can count on Iran’s regime to keep trying its best to deceive the world.

Hamid Enayat is an Iranian expert and writer based in Paris, where he has written frequently on Iranian and regional issues over the past 30 years.