US to Cancel Sanctions Waivers for Iranian Oil Importers
By Staff, Agencies
The United States is to announce that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or face US sanctions, a report says.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- the alleged architect of the so-called zero tolerance policy -- will make the announcement on Monday, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing two State Department officials.
The administration of President Donald Trump left a multi-lateral nuclear agreement with Iran last May. Afterwards, Washington re-imposed the sanctions that had been lifted under the accord.
Last November, the US enforced sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s banking and energy sector, however, it granted waivers from the bans to eight major importers of the Iranian oil, fearing market instability including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
Now, Pompeo is expected to declare that the State Department will not be exempting the importers of Iranian crude or condensates beyond May 2, which is the deadline for renewing the waivers.
A senior State Department official said Washington was going ahead with the decision “because the conditions to not grant any more SREs have now been met,” pointing to “significant reduction exceptions” -- Washington's term for the waivers.
Officials cited by the daily claimed that this time around, market would avert disruptions as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] had given commitments to increase supply.
Despite the alleged assurances, benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose by as much as 3.2 percent to $74.30 a barrel, the highest since November 1, in early trading on Monday “in reaction to expectations of tightening supply,” Reuters reported. US West Texas Intermediate [WTI] futures climbed as much as 2.9 percent to $65.87 a barrel, its highest since October 30.
Since his inauguration in 2016, Trump has been rallying the two countries, its closest allies in the Gulf region, around an anti-Iran drive. Tehran has warned the region's countries against falling for the US ploy, saying it threatens to further alienate regional countries and trigger more tensions.
A senior official, meanwhile, referred to Pompeo as the person who “originated” the so-called policy of zero tolerance, noting, “He has executed this policy in tight coordination with the president every step of the way.”
Since Trump took office, the US has been leading more antagonistic policies towards Iran under the banner of “maximum pressure.” The US president claims the drive seeks to initiate negotiations leading to a “better” nuclear deal.