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While western countries and their Gulf allies did their best to isolate Iran from trading during the 2012-15 period of heightened sanctions, one area where Tehran proved more resilient was in continuing to export its oil to select customers.
Oil has always been the lifeblood of the Iranian economy but in this case its exportation provided a lifeline to its floundering economy.
Iran had been subject to sanctions since 2002 but these were tightened further in 2011 which led its roughly $420bn economy to shrink by about 9% in the two-year period that ended in March 2014, according to the IMF.
From then until January 2016, when sanctions were broadly lifted in return for nuclear curbs, Iran’s ability to continue trading oil proved invaluable.
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