S. Korean Expecting Extension of US Sanctions Waiver on Iran Oil Exports

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A sanctions waiver on Iran's petroleum exports that expires in May is expected to be extended during South Korean government officials visit to Washington this week.

S. Korean Expecting Extension of US Sanctions Waiver on Iran Oil Exports

The Seoul government said in a news release on Monday that in order to keep buying Iranian oil in exchange for having reduced such purchases, the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Yoon Kang-hyun and other officials will meet with US State Department officials on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the waiver issued in November, according to Channel News Asia.

On May 8, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was achieved in Vienna in 2015 after years of negotiations among Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany), and announced plans for new sanctions against Tehran.

The White House has also announced plans to get as many countries as possible down to zero Iranian oil imports and launch a campaign of “maximum economic and diplomatic pressure” on Iran.

Washington issued sanctions waivers for eight countries in November, including for South Korea, Iran's fourth largest oil customer in Asia. 

The South Korean officials will meet with the US State Department's top energy diplomat Francis Fannon on Thursday. On Wednesday they will meet with Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, and David Peyman, the deputy assistant secretary of state for counter threat finance and sanctions.

A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meeting with Peyman. Officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the other meetings.

Peyman met with South Korean officials in Asia earlier this month. He offered "to continue to closely consult on the extension of sanctions exemption and Korean companies' technical issues regarding trade with Iran", a statement from Seoul's foreign ministry said at the time.

South Korea is a large buyer of a light oil called condensates from Iran and has told a former US official that there are few options for getting the same quality of condensate from other suppliers.

Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying that Seoul has had discussions since November with Washington on gaining an extended exception and that ending the purchases of condensates would affect its economy. "No extension means no imports of Iranian condensate," an official told Yonhap.

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