Iran is hoping for an improvement in crude oil exports despite further sanctions, Reuters reported.

“What matters now for Iran is the amount of oil that we can export,” said the Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

In June, Iranian crude exports dropped to 300,000 barrels per day (b/d), due to the US-imposed sanctions.

The drop in oil exports has been mainly caused by the US re-imposing sanctions on Tehran and then ending sanction waivers for major Iranian oil buyers.

American sanctions led to a drop in Iranian crude exports from 2.8 million b/d to around 1 million b/d in a year’s time, and it has been declining ever since.

Zanganeh blamed the US for destabilizing the oil market by ordering all countries and companies to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system from the start of May saying that Washington is “using oil as a weapon” to pressure Iran.

Globally, crude prices have maintained a rising trend. “Oil is supported by rising concerns that there could be an accidental clash in the Middle East,” Takayuki Nogami, chief economist at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp told Bloomberg. “Investors are taking a wait-and-see approach on the US-China trade war, as crude demand will not grow just because negotiations were restarted,” he added.

Tensions escalated after British forces seized a tanker carrying the Iranian flag near Gibraltar, accusing it of smuggling oil.