Reporter) Yes. The Joe Biden administration has mobilized major countries to stabilize soaring international oil prices. Meanwhile, the US has agreed to release 50 million barrels of its strategic oil reserve. The United States has officially invited Taiwan to the ‘Democracy Summit’ to be held next month. We would like to share with you the news of the visit of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iran ahead of negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal to resume next week.
Reporter) Yes. The US government announced on the 23rd that it would release 50 million barrels of ‘Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)’. President Joe Biden announced this in person at the White House on the same day, saying that other countries have agreed to join in the release of oil reserves to stabilize oil prices.
Moderator) What is a ‘strategic oil reserve’?
Reporter) Yes. It refers to the amount that governments of each country have strategically secured in order to cope with the unstable oil supply and demand situation. It is to prepare in advance for emergencies such as war in the Middle East or natural disasters. In the case of the United States, it is known that about 600 million barrels, or about a month, are stockpiled.
Moderator) So, do you think the current international oil price trend is serious enough to release strategic oil reserves?
Reporter) Yes. According to Reuters, crude oil prices recently hit a seven-year high. Gasoline retail prices rose more than 60% last year, the fastest rise since 2000.
Moderator) Why is the price of crude oil soaring?
The biggest cause is related to the novel coronavirus outbreak. When the coronavirus hit the world last year, factories in each country closed and daily life was paralyzed, resulting in a sharp drop in oil consumption. As a result, oil-producing countries have also cut oil production. However, this year, as the global economy is stretching, the demand for crude oil is rising again. However, as oil-producing countries do not increase production, there is a global shortage of crude oil and prices are skyrocketing.
Moderator) A sharp rise in oil prices will have a considerable impact on the industry as a whole, but won’t ordinary consumers suffer a lot right now?
Reporter) Yes. For that reason, US President Joe Biden has asked the OPEC+, a gathering of oil-producing countries, to increase production. However, when there was no positive response, they sought cooperation with other countries. From last week, media reports began appearing that some countries had received requests from the United States.
Moderator) What countries received the US request?
Reporter) Japan, Korea, UK, India, China, etc. President Biden listed these countries one by one on the same day and introduced that they had agreed to take measures to release oil stockpiles to stabilize oil prices.
Moderator) Did the countries in question also confirm this fact?
Reporter) Yes. Among the countries listed, India was the first to divulge specific emission levels. India said in a press release on the 23rd that it had decided to release 5 million barrels of oil from its oil reserves. He added that the measures would be taken simultaneously in consultation with major energy consuming countries such as the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.
Moderator) So, have other countries other than India not disclosed the specific emission scale yet?
Reporter) Yes. Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda told reporters on the 24th that “there is a plan to release hundreds of thousands of kiloliters,” but the release date has not yet been set. One kiloliter is about 6.3 barrels. Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei Shimbun reported that the Japanese government plans to release about 4.2 million barrels.
Moderator) Let’s listen to the announcement from the Korean government.
Reporter) Yes. South Korea announced last week that it was considering receiving a request from the US government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea announced on the 24th that it had decided to participate in the release of oil stockpiles in consideration of the necessity of international cooperation and the importance of the US-Korea alliance. South Korea has not yet revealed the specific emission scale. There are observations that it will emit at a level similar to the previous case led by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Moderator) Has the international community ever collaborated on the strategic release of oil stockpiles before?
Reporter) Yes. In 1991, 2005, and 2011, countries have released oil reserves due to wars in the Middle East or natural disasters in oil-producing countries. However, at that time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) led and cooperated. This time, it is different in that each country is cooperating under the leadership of the United States.
Moderator) But, is it noticeable that China, which is in friction with the United States, has decided to participate?
Reporter) Yes. At a press briefing on the 24th, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the release of oil reserves would be confirmed and the scale and timing of the release would be announced at an appropriate time. However, spokesperson Zhao Lijian emphasized that China will release its oil reserves according to the actual situation and demand, taking the form of distancing itself from the United States.
Moderator) These major countries are cooperating, will the oil price be lowered?
Reporter) There are no very positive prospects. It is pointed out that the oil reserves that countries other than the United States can release are insufficient to stabilize international oil prices. In the midst of this, OPEC+ plans to discuss related policies on the 2nd of next month. However, there are still no signs of a change in policy and an increase in production.
Reporter) Yes. The ‘Democracy Summit’ will be held via video on the 9th and 10th of next month. Taiwan is attracting attention as it has been added to the list of invitations from about 110 countries released by the US State Department on the 23rd.
Moderator) What kind of event is the ‘Democracy Summit’?
Reporter) Yes. It is an international conference conceived by US President Biden with the purpose of uniting democracies around the world against the authoritarian system. This is also Biden’s presidential campaign promise. By organizing a new high-level event called the Democracy Summit, the purpose is to strengthen cooperation with our allies and solidify our leadership in the international community.
Moderator) So this event will be the first meeting, I wonder what countries were invited?
Reporter) Yes. First of all, from the Asian region, traditional US allies such as Korea and Japan were invited. China, Thailand and Vietnam were not included in the invitation list.
Moderator) How about other regions?
Reporter) In Europe, countries such as Britain and France where democracy is evaluated as mature, as well as countries such as Poland and Ukraine where democracy is criticized for being threatened were invited. However, Russia and Belarus were excluded.
Moderator) What countries were invited from the Middle East?
Reporter) Yes. Only three countries from the Middle East are on the invitation list. Israel, Iraq and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are not on the list.
Host) True to the name of the event, it seems that many countries that have been criticized for violations of democracy and human rights have been excluded. How is Taiwan responding to the official US invitation?
Reporter) The President’s Office of Taiwan thanked President Biden and the US government for inviting Taiwan, saying it would be a place to confirm Taiwan’s efforts to defend democracy and human rights.
Moderator) It’s a ‘Summit meeting’, but is President Tsai Ing-wen attending from Taiwan?
reporter) No. Taiwan announced that Minister-level Audrey Tang, a digital political committee member, and Xiao Mei-chin, representative of Taiwan’s Economic and Cultural Representatives in the United States (TECRO), would attend instead of President Tsai Ing-wen. There are observations that it is trying to elevate Taiwan’s status in a line that does not stimulate China as much as possible.
Moderator) Let’s look at China’s reaction.
Reporter) Yes. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian told reporters on the 24th that the United States is using democracy as a tool to cover up its own interests and geopolitical goals. He repeatedly emphasized that Taiwan is an indivisible territory of China.
Reporter) Yes. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Secretary-General Rafael Grosi visited Iran on the 23rd. This is Grosi’s third visit to Iran since February.
Moderator) What is the purpose of this visit?
This is to ask the Iranian government to expand IAEA inspections ahead of negotiations on the restoration of the Iranian nuclear deal that will resume on the 29th. Prior to his visit to Iran, Secretary-General Grosi tweeted on the 22nd that “we hope to establish useful and cooperative channels of dialogue so that the IAEA can resume verification activities in Iran.”
Moderator) Is the IAEA not conducting inspection activities properly in Iran right now?
Reporter) Yes. In 2018, after the US administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, the U.S. administration, under Donald Trump, abolished the implementation of the nuclear agreement in sequence. In February, it announced that it would not allow IAEA inspections either.
Moderator) So, didn’t Secretary-General Grosi visit Iran in a hurry?
Reporter) That’s right. After tug-of-war negotiations with Iranian officials, Grosi received a promise to allow three-month temporary inspections. Iran decided to keep the surveillance cameras installed by the IAEA at Iran’s nuclear facilities and provide them to the IAEA when sanctions against Iran are lifted. I did.
Moderator) But in the meantime, negotiations on the restoration of the Iran nuclear agreement have begun, haven’t they?
Reporter) Yes. In April, the parties to the Iran nuclear deal and Iran began negotiations to restore the nuclear deal in Vienna, Austria. The Joe Biden administration, which had hinted at the possibility of a return to the Iran nuclear deal even before its inception, is participating in the negotiations in an indirect form. But with no progress, they are stuck in a deadlock.
Moderator) Has the regime changed in Iran too?
Reporter) That’s right. Ebrahim Raishi, a hardline conservative candidate, won the presidential election in June. Negotiations on the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal have also been halted. Negotiations to restore the Iranian nuclear deal, which will resume at the end of this month, will be held for the first time since the inauguration of the new Iranian government.
Moderator) Prior to the negotiations, I wonder what kind of conversation happened between IAEA Secretary General Grosi and Iranian officials?
Reporter) Yes. Secretary-General Grosi met Mohammad Eslamy, the new Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, and Hossein Amir Abdulahian, the new Foreign Minister. The meeting was held privately. Secretary-General Grosi and Atomic Energy Commissioner Eslamy held a press conference after the meeting. At this meeting, Eslamy argued that some had not yet received an answer, and some argued that the matter had already been closed in the past.
What does it mean to be closed in the past?
Reporter) The issues raised by the West in relation to the Iranian nuclear program have already been dealt with in the Iran nuclear agreement signed in 2015 and have been closed. “Today, we have agreed to put an end to them,” Eslamy said.
Moderator) What did President Grosi say?
Reporter) Yes. Grosi explained that the meeting was very serious, but he did not speak as definitively as Iranian Atomic Energy Director Eslamy. However, at this point, he revealed a subtle difference of position by saying that they are still negotiating to find common ground.
Moderator) Yes. The global village will listen up to today.
* This article refers to ‘Reuters’.